Don’t know about y’all, but I already miss the days when the Rashad Evans/Jon Jones situation was merely awkward, and not openly hostile. The gloves finally came off yesterday when Evans gave an interview to BloodyElbow in which he told everyone what he really thinks about the new UFC light-heavyweight champion, and reveals that he never wanted to train with Jones in the first place. Some highlights…
On Jones’s change of heart before the Shogun fight: “I mean it’s one thing to say something in an interview but the least you could have picked up the phone and been like, ‘man I did an interview today and they kind of put me on the spot with a rough question and I answered it this way.’ At least give me the heads up so that way I know and not look at it if he’s Judas or something. You know who Judas is? That interview was some backstabbing s**t but now it’s like whatever because now I know the game he is playing. Then for Greg to sit back and say he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it….why not? You f**kin’ created the situation. Be his coach and be in his corner. That’s what you want so do it. I don’t care if he coaches against me. It doesn’t even matter.”
[Ed. note: Yeah, I think a guy with a New Testament scripture inked on his chest is pretty familiar with Judas. In all of the verbal-trash that will be slung around in the lead-up to this fight, this is probably the line that will stick with — and motivate — Jones the most.]
On Greg Jackson: “You can’t say you are not going to have anything to do with it when you are a big part of the reason why the situation originated. That’s like spilling a glass of milk and then walking away and saying that you don’t want to have anything to do with it. You f**kin’ spilled the milk…so you’re at least going to help clean it up right? When Jon Jones came to the gym over a year ago Greg Jackson came to me and said, ‘listen, what do you feel about having this kid on the team?’ I told him straight up that I didn’t like it. I told him that the kid was talented and that the sky was the limit with him but that was the type of guy I wanted to fight not train with.
Greg came back saying, ‘No, no, no this will be just like you and Keith where he will be just like a brother.’ I still told him that I didn’t want to do that. Then Greg said if that situation ever did arise between Jones and I that he would have to turn the fight down because that’s how it works. He would have to turn down the fight with me so that way I wouldn’t be put in a position where I looked like a punk. That’s how it works in the Greg Jackson system. After a while Greg was so high on this kid coming in and I met Jon Jones and he was a very nice and very sweet kid, so eventually I said f**k it, let’ s bring him in. After he got there and I trained with him and tried him out a little bit, something didn’t feel right so I moved my camp up to Denver to train at Grudge for awhile. That is where I spent the majority of my time over the past two fights.’
On his former relationship with Jones: “I feel disrespected by Jon because when I think about when we trained or when we were chilling, was the s**t even real? Or was he just trying to be a master manipulator and try to manipulate the situation so he could get what he wanted out of it? I don’t know and that is a question that I have in my mind but when I get down to it.”
On the cold realities of the sport: “There is no end all be all in this game of mixed martial arts. It’s a bag of mixed nuts. People are touting Jon around like he’s Neo from the Matrix. That’s all good and dandy but be there for the kid when the kid falls. Be there to pick him back up rather than turn their back on him like they did to Machida. Lyoto loses and all of a sudden he sucks. No he doesn’t f**kn suck it’s just the way the game goes. Nobody is supreme in this game and that is what makes mixed martial arts what it is today. Nobody is the absolute best. Anybody can get beat by anybody on any given day.”
There’s lots more gems from the Rashad interview — including his declaration that he’ll never be part of a “team” ever again — so check it out if you’re interested.
One fighter who will be remaining loyal to Evans in the aftermath of the messy Jones/Evans/Jackson divorce is former UFC light-heavyweight contender Keith Jardine, who has trained with Rashad since their shared stint on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. As he told ESPN.com, ”[N]o question I would be supporting Rashad. He’s one of my closest friends in the world. I have a lot of loyalty and friendship with him.” Jardine also gave his thoughts about Evans’s importance to the Jackson Camp Mythology, and the currently fractured state of the team:
“One thing to remember is Rashad is instrumental in this whole Jackson phenomenon starting. Without Rashad, who knows if it ever would have happened? He was one of the first guys to come in from out of town and join the team. And he was a guy who, when the sport was growing, he was winning fights and everybody was looking at him as he was getting better. People were calling Rashad up and he was bringing people to town, and without him, who knows if any of that would have ever happened? Without Rashad Evans, maybe this Jackson’s phenomena never happens…
It’ll never be the same, you know? This gym, when the UFC broke out in 2005, was built on me, Rashad, Nate Marquardt, Joey Villasenor and Diego Sanchez. Nate’s going to stay in Denver most of the time now. That’s sort of like the old generation, and they’re welcoming the future with Jon Jones, and that’s kind of where it is right now. For me, there’s no hard feelings; it’s just business…
It all started from that interview that Jon did, talking about the possibility of fighting with Rashad. That’s just something that doesn’t need to be said. Of course they could have been made to fight, and they both knew it. But for Jon to go out and say that made Rashad look like a punk, and that’s kind of what happened to start it all. It was already sensitive, so it blew up after that…Jon’s just a kid. He doesn’t really think through a lot of things of what he says. And I’m sure he probably regretted it right afterwards and all that, so I don’t think he had malicious intent in doing it.”