Like a pack of vultures circling around a limping wildebeest, we’ve all been keeping a close eye lately on Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, and the circumstances that may or may not be driving a wedge through their formerly rock-solid friendship. During a conference call earlier today for UFC 128, Jones’s amiable personality hardened up for a moment when a reporter asked him — for the last time — about he and Evans potentially fighting each other in the future. Here’s what Bones had to say:
“With all due respect to you as a reporter — and I want to make it clear to all the other reporters — but I absolutely hate when people mention Rashad Evans, especially throughout this training camp. He’s a friend of mine, but I’m fighting Mauricio “Shogun”, one of the best fighters that’s been around for a long time, and for people to even be mentioning Rashad Evans right now, I think it’s ludicrous.
If you’re part of the growing contingent of MMA fans who aren’t convinced that UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is resilient enough to gut out a win against a tough raw talent like Jon Jones, the video above of the then-22-year-old former Chuteboxe fighter taking on future teammate Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos might change your mind.
Can you even imagine being the poor, unsuspecting 0-2 light heavyweight who showed up at a small-time independent MMA show in Foxborough, Mass., back in April of 2008 to fight an unheralded rookie named Jon Jones? Well – good news — now you don’t have to imagine. Thanks to a vid dredged up by the homies at Middle Easy, we have the moving pictures right there at top. I mean, my God, it’s highly possible this poor sap Brad Bernard (who fights out of something called “The Bucket Brigade” and is identified by the announcers here early on as a *shudder* “barroom brawler” ) actually thought he was going to win this fight against a green 21-year-old nobody had ever heard of before. Spoiler alert: Bernard does not win this fight.
Some background on the vid itself: It originates from 8 Count News’ Peter Czymbor, who confesses to being the play-by-play announcer on the event broadcast. He apparently just recently saved this fight from obscurity by pulling it off the original DVD and posting it to the interwebs for all to see. That was mighty nice of him, if we do say so ourselves. We should also point out that Czymbor is apparently not the announcer on this video who pours a whole cooler full of Haterade on Jones for being “kind of a sore-sport” after some “cocky behavior” during the fight and for an “illegal” kick which later turned out to be totally legal. That would be somebody named Mark Chaupetta and in his defense, the broadcasters didn’t have the luxury of live instant replay during the event, which makes his gripes over Jones’ kick a bit more excusable.
After the jump, some words from Czymbor about this fight …
UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones goes down March 19th at the Prudential Center in Newark, and we’ve got the extended trailer for your viewing pleasure. Personally, I’m already a little burned out on watching the main eventers’ fight highlights and hearing the crusty old “youth vs. experience” debate. If you are too, just skip to the 4:51 mark to hear more about two other fights that aren’t getting nearly enough attention.
You can probably go into any MMA camp in the world and find two guys who would never fight each other under any circumstances — and in most cases, it’s because they’re not being offered a title fight against each other in the UFC. But what happens when personal principles smash head-on into cold reality? This whole Jon Jones/Rashad Evans situation is giving us a revealing glimpse at just that.
(C’mon, Trevor Wittman will fight you right now for 50 cents and a half-pack of smokes. Pic: Sherdog)
Trevor Wittman appears to be one of the happiest guys in mixed martial arts. Seriously, if you’ve never noticed Wittman leaning over the top of the cage grinning like a deranged toddler during the introductions to any bout involving one of his fighters, check it out next time. That smile is all you need to see to know that the head coach at Colorado’s Grudge Training Center genuinely loves all facets of the fight game. It also makes us think that if a guy with as sunny a disposition as Wittman is willing to say publicly that one of his fighters (Rashad Evans) should sack up and fight another guy who is (sort of) one of his fighters (Jon Jones), that’s pretty significant.
We’re only 18 days away from one of the most compelling UFC title fights in recent history. Will Jon Jones complete his prodigious ascent to the top of the light-heavyweight heap, less than three years after making his MMA debut? Will veteran knockout artist Mauricio Rua show Bones what a true champion really is? And will anybody have the guts to confront Shogun about his unibrow situation? The UFC’s latest teaser trailer has our minds racing. If you have any insight, please share…
(Well, this explains that full rack of “Machida Era” T-shirts at the Montreal Salvation Army. Pic: Knucklepit)
Once long trumpeted as MMA’s marquee weight division, the 205-pound class has had a bit of a rough go in recent years. Call it light heavyweight’s awkward teen phase. The consistency of Tito Ortiz’s early dominance and the glory days of the Chuck vs. Randy trilogy have faded into the uncertain mediocrity of the Rampage-Forrest-Rashad-Machida-Shogun Era. Frankly, what we have here is a division in desperate need of stability. If only someone would come along to restore the 205-pound class to its former awesomeness … someone enormous, with unrivaled athleticism and really, really long arms … someone possessing of unwavering spirituality and wicked Greco throws … someone who could capitalize on the misfortune of his training partners and vault directly into a title shot after just a handful of wins over middling opponents … Anyway, if that guy’s out there somewhere, we can’t possibly imagine who it might be.
Right now, light heavyweight rankings are anybody’s best guess. After the jump, find the current top fives, according to CP’s editorial staff along with our dubious justifications of our crappy opinions. Check out our lists and let us know how badly we screwed them up, would you please …
Even though the decision seemed justified at the time, deep down Evans might wish he could take that one back. At least publicly however, he’s holding the line. As the great poet Coolio once said, wishing is for suckers, and Rashad? Well, a few weeks after seeing his next chance at that 205-pound strap evaporate when he got his knee rolled up during a freak accident in the training room, he still says he wouldn’t change a thing …