(“So, we can put you down for two boxes of Thin Mints, one box of Samoas and one box of Thank U Berry Much, then?” Pic: SB Nation)
Have a conversation with any of the top trainers in mixed martial arts – say, a Bob Cook, Trevor Wittman, or even Cesar Gracie – and it’s almost guaranteed that you will walk away struck by their incredible levelheadedness and otherworldly patience. Nowhere is that commitment to sanity and likability more evident than in Greg Jackson who – let’s face it – must be a goddamned saint to put up with everybody else in this sport’s crazy bullshit on day-to-day basis. Seriously, this dude seems far too reasonable to even be involved in MMA.
In fact, if there’s a real tragedy in Jon Jones’ and Rashad Evans’ lightning quick transition from bros to foes these last few weeks, it’s that Jackson is caught in the middle of it. The renowned trainer reiterated his resolve to stay neutral during an interview with MMA Fighting published on Wednesday, in the end essentially saying he feels both Jones and Evans are in the wrong here: Jones for capitulating to public pressure to fight Evans and then Evans for totally freaking the fuck out and decamping for Florida when he found out about it. Jackson’s entirely too sensible take on the situation is after the jump …
“The thing with Rashad is, he said he was okay with Jon coming on the team,” Jackson says, in response to Evans’ claims that the coach somehow forced Jones onto Team Jackson. “I felt that Jon did the wrong thing by saying he would fight Rashad, but once they signed to fight, I’m staying out of it. I’m not choosing Rashad over Jon Jones or Jon Jones over Rashad; I’m staying out of the entire thing. Everybody signed on to (Jon) being on the team. It wasn’t like I brought him on with these evil intentions. I bring a lot of training partners on to the team who are in the same weight class. For instance, Donald Cerrone, Melvin Guillard, Clay Guida – all these guys are in the same division.”
As he so often does, Evans seems intent on going whole hog during the trash talking portion of promoting an upcoming fight with Jones. As you already know, he dished the dirt to anyone who would listen this week, calling Jones a “Judas” and accusing Jackson of betraying him by even bringing Jones onto the team in the first place. While that might be a good strategy for Rashad – one of the many remaining unknowns about Jones is how he’ll respond to a bitter grudge match – but it sure sucks for Jackson.
“I love Rashad to death,” he says. “I’m not sure why he’s angry at me. I guess I can see from a perspective — that isn’t really the way it is — why he’s angry, but I don’t have any animosity towards him. I’ve always tried to help him out. I was with him right after he won that reality show all the way to his world title. I’m not sure what it is … Maybe (it’s the situation), but Rashad is coming straight at me, (saying) ‘Greg Jackson did this and Greg Jackson did that.’ I’m the one that’s not choosing. I’m staying neutral. I’m not going to tell you, ‘You can’t fight.’ You’re both grown-ass men. I’m not the boss of either of you, and I’m not your dad.”