By Jason Moles
Friendship is, and always will be, one of life’s trickiest puzzles. It is also one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences a person will ever have. But despite all of the wonderful joys that come from having a friend, not all friendships are made to last the sands of time like Fred and Barney. How could they? Ego, pride, and the opposite sex often reduce the strongest of bonds to mere ashes. And we wouldn’t want it any other way because some guys make good friends, but much better enemies. Here’s a look at five classic friendships gone awry…
Jon Jones – Rashad Evans
In a time when instant gratification is king, the world is still awaiting the showdown between former friends and training partners, ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. Jackson’s MMA used to be a place where the two sweat and bled together, side by side, day after day — as friends. These two were more like brothers than Ken and Frank, so much so that they vowed never to fight each other, suggesting someone would fake an injury to avoid the confrontation at all costs.
We’ve had multiple in-cage showdowns, a twitter beef or two, and a minor club incident since the moment the young rising star confirmed that he would indeed fight the former TUF 2 winner if Dana White really wanted him to. Fast forward a year and the two have still yet to fight thanks to injuries, both real and imagined. Some would argue that “Good things come to those who wait,” but patience is not a virtue most of us possess. We want to see these dudes throw down now! All we are concerned with at this point is who the teacher is and who is the student.
Shaquille O’Neal – Kobe Bryant
When these ballers weren’t trashing each other in the media or asking how their ass tasted, they were putting boots to other people’s asses on a regular basis leading to an incredible four NBA Championships including a three-peat from 2000 to 2002. Like all locker rooms, there was probably a sign above the door that read something like this: Check your ego at the door — unless your name is Kobe f’n Bryant.
To put it plainly, Los Angeles just wasn’t big enough for the two of ‘em. What started out as “innocent” hazing slowly morphed into insults being hurled like flaming arrows over a castle wall. The Shaq-Kobe beef separated fans like the Mason-Dixon Line did the legality of slavery. The best part is that the airing of their dirty laundry was just as pleasant to witness as the greatness displayed in the paint.
Ultimate Fighting Championship – Spike TV
At a time when both were looking like the desperate guy outside a casino, smelling of stale cigarettes and booze, hoping to turn the ten bucks bummed from a do-gooder back into the thousands he lost the night before, they realized they were each other’s best, and possibly only chance at hitting the jackpot. In a way, they both made each other. For every fan the UFC has thanks to the amount of exposure given to The Ultimate Fighter, Spike TV has another viewer to boost its Nielsen Ratings with shows like Manswers and 1000 Ways to Die. The symbiotic relationship between Zuffa and Viacom literally kept the UFC and Spike TV alive to fight another day.
Like all good things, this too came to an end. After the UFC signed the FOX deal, the fine gentlemen at Spike’s HQ made no secret about their intent to attack their former partner at all costs. Stealing a page out of White’s own book, Spike won the ratings war with a rerun counter-program to a live event. Not liking the taste of their wounds, the UFC will be forced to amp up their game and make sure the free fights that get tossed to the casual fans for free are actually worth watching. Competition breeds excellence, and that’s exactly what the fans deserve.
As with many things in the world of professional wrestling, storylines often change frequently over the course of a few years. During the 1980s, two of the WWF’s biggest stars played opposite roles. On one hand you had the baby face Hulk Hogan, on the other, you had Randy Savage playing the heel. It is pro wrestling math at its finest. However, things changed in 1987 when the former rivals formed The Mega Powers and decided to fight the good fight together.
Thankfully, Savage’s wife Elizabeth drove a wedge between the pair, granting fans the opportunity once more to see the two guys at the top get it on in the squared circle. Even among smarks, you’d have an easier time finding someone who believed in the Easter Bunny than you would finding someone who couldn’t wait for “Hulkamania” and “Macho Madness” to renew their epic battle.
Ben Fowlkes – Ariel Helwani
During his two-year stint at CagePotato, no one minded when Ben Fowlkes wrote while inebriated, or mailed it in when he had to chase a story for Fight! magazine. It’s a much different story, however, where Ben currently hangs his scarf. The folks over there don’t take too kindly to keyboard warriors who play hooky.
Most weeks, Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting hosts a live show with a bold-faced lie of a title, The MMA Hour. Amidst all the high-profile fighters and managers who stop by and break news or analyze fights, comedic relief was needed. Enter Ben Fowlkes. He and Ariel got along well and verbally sparred with the best of them. The ebb and flow of sarcasm and mutual respect was uncanny. A match made in Heaven they were, and fans ate it up. Until…
Apparently Fowlkes no-showed an episode, so Helwani, being the Judge, Jury and Executioner that he is, laid down the hammer and handed the MMA Journalist of the Year nominee a six-week suspension from the show. Fowlkes claimed he was getting an interview or maybe it was skiing, whatever. The jabs thrown on Twitter between the two created more entertainment in a few short weeks than our entire comments section has this year. Okay, I’m not actually sure if that’s true or not because, quite frankly, I don’t read anything on this site, including my own articles, but I digress. Watching the petty in-fighting among our biggest rivals gave us a sick satisfaction that has comforted us during these trying times.