(Alright, Rashad, you know what to do. As soon as he offers to shake your hand, pull away at the last second and then just stroll past him like a boss.)
The war of words between former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and current champ Jon Jones has been brewing for what feels like forever, so much so that anyone within arms reach of either man has come under fire in the past few weeks. And at the epicenter of these disputes is none other than Evans’ former coach and Jones’ current one, Greg Jackson. Yes, ever since Rashad left Team Jackson for the greener pastures of Blackzilia, he has been rather candid when discussing what he believes was a betrayal on Jackson’s part.
When we last caught up with these two, Jones attempted to explain his side of the story, basically saying that Jackson has tried on numerous occasions to reconcile with Evans, who has instead opted to bash “the program and the history” of Team Jackson. A history that Evans himself helped build, nonetheless. “Suga,” on the other hand, felt that Jackson simply traded in his Cutlass Classic for a brand new Buick Lacrosse, so to speak. And in a recent interview with MMAWeekly, Evans expanded upon this notion, choosing to use Greg Jackson’s name as much as humanly possible:
Like I told Greg at the time, I told Greg I don’t think it would be a good idea, but Greg did what Greg wanted to do for Greg. That’s why Greg brought him on because Greg wanted to do what he wanted to do for Greg.
That’s the thing about him. Greg talks about ‘for the team, for the team.’ The team consists of ‘I’ which is Greg Jackson. That’s what the team consists of, it’s about Greg Jackson getting the ‘Coach of the Year’ awards. That’s what it consists of.
Though we all know that Greg has always been a man of the people, this seems like an unnecessarily brutal criticism by Evans, does it not?
Since leaving Team Jackson, Evans has gone into Josh Koscheck mode when questioned on anything semi-related to his former camp, and it’s beginning to come off as bitter more than anything else at this point. Considering that ninety percent of Evans’ success as a fighter came during his time at Team Jackson, his sudden willingness to discredit the same camp that propelled him to a championship seems both counter intuitive to his own success and honestly, rather shallow.
The question you have to ask yourself is this: Did Greg Jackson really do anything wrong by taking Jones under his wing? It’s understandable that Evans would expect a little loyalty, or perhaps preference, over Jones, being that they are in the same weight class, but who is Evans to tell Jackson who he can and cannot train with? From a business standpoint, it simply doesn’t make sense to limit one’s abilities as a coach to a select group of people, especially in an ever-growing sport such as MMA. There’s no reason to believe that these two could not be members of the same gym, even if they would eventually run into one another down the line. Not every team has to be run like AKA, where members of each camp flat out refuse to fight each other. Dana White has even said that teammates should be willing to fight each other simply because it’s what they are paid to do. It doesn’t mean they can’t be friends, it just means that they are both willing to do anything to become the best at what they do. The fact of the matter is, MMA is not a team sport, so to expect complete undying loyalty from one’s team is a bit of a bloated notion. This is why you don’t start a business with friends.
And what Evans doesn’t seem to realize is that, yes, by taking on a phenom like Jon Jones, Greg Jackson was protecting his best interests. As a coach, as a businessman, and as a professional, he saw a talent and wanted to help shape it. For Evans to say otherwise would simply reverse the scenario, in turn choosing to protect his own interests over that of his coach. Evans even went as far as to say that he would never bring someone into his camp with a chance of being a contender after the whole Team Jackson debacle:
I wouldn’t do that; I wouldn’t put myself in the position again. I wouldn’t bring myself with somebody that I knew would be a contender.
Well, all we can say to that kind of mentality is good luck, Mr. Evans. Because, as we all know, the quickest way to elevate your game is to train with people that you are leagues ahead of in terms of skill set and accomplishments. We hope that no one in “Suga’s” team actually becomes a decent fighter, because that will be the quickest way to earn one’s walking papers, it seems.