Saturday Night's Mania Event (SNME) is back and you know what that means: General Geno is talking crazy again.
This week, a whole lot of news came out regarding the Rashad Evans feud with Jon Jones and this thing is getting wackier by the minute. From a nightclub confrontation that was supposedly broken up by Georges St. Pierre (don't mess up his good time) to "Bones" no longer needing surgery on his ailing hand.
One thing remains constant, however; these two are really easy for fans to hate.
Why is that? Let's have a look.
Evans is viewed as a whiny older brother type who was shunned by his parents when the cute young kid came along and wowed them with his baby-face and lovable personality.
Jones, on the other hand, is the primadonna who let all the love and attention get to his head, quickly turning from humble young up-and-comer to cocky and overconfident champion.
Bad raps? Even if they're not, perception is reality. Doesn't have to be true, fans just need a reason to think it is.
And god knows, they've been given plenty of reasons to believe what they do. When Evans is snidely claiming he'll never go back to Team Greg Jackson because of the way the drama played out, it doesn't matter that he has a legitimate beef.
All fans see is the stilted and overblown reaction of a child stomping up the steps and slamming the bedroom door, all the while proclaiming, "I'M NEVER COMING OUT EVER AGAIN!!!"
Again, his beef is a valid one and undeserving of the constant ridicule he receives for voicing his displeasure at the crapshoot of a situation he was thrust into.
The hatred for Rashad has run long, from his days showboating on TUF to grabbing his junk and blowing a kiss to Forrest Griffin in the middle of their fight, but Jones is giving him a run for his money as the most hated man in MMA.
Especially with the circumstances surrounding his withdrawal from their scheduled fight.
Quick rundown of the situation.
Rashad Evans is scheduled to fight Mauricio Rua for the light heavyweight title. He waits almost an entire year to do so, passing up a couple offered fights to preserve his title shot, but bad luck hits and he blows his knee out six weeks away from fight night.
The UFC scrambles and offers the title shot to his teammate at the time, Jon Jones, after he manhandles Ryan Bader at UFC 126. Jones accepts and moves on to UFC 128, just six weeks later, to fight "Shogun" for the strap.
"Bones" basically commits a crime in the cage, brutally assaulting Rua until the champion taps in the third round, and we have a new light heavyweight champion.
The planets line up perfectly and right there in the cage is Evans, here to assert himself as the number one contender to the belt. They staredown, share a contentious handshake and the battle is on.
Various bickering back and forth through the media and on Twitter further hyped the highly anticipated showdown. However, it culminated with a shocking and extremely disappointing announcement.
Jones was electing to have voluntary surgery on his hand to repair torn ligaments in his thumb ... a problem he had been having since his days in college and one he outright admitted does not affect his striking or grappling.
UFC must be nearly as devastated as the fans, as a big money fight has just gone right out the window. Instead of waiting for Jones to get healthy, Evans accepts a fight against Phil Davis at UFC 133 on Aug. 6 in Philadelphia, which had previously been the date he would have fought Jones.
Even after accepting that fight, "Suga" continued to comment on his former friend, lamenting the loss of the bout and calling him out through various media outlets.
Then one day he went on Twitter again and outright claimed Jones was ducking him due to the fact that he actually DIDN'T need surgery. This was confirmed moments later when Jon's manager, Malki Kawa, took to his Twitter (so many Twitters) to clear the air. Here's what he had to say:
"I guess its time to put out the truth. @Jonnybones suffered a tear in his thumb in 2 different spots... Every dr he saw said to have surgery ... We went to meet with the surgeon on wed and after he looked at @Jonnybones he thought that surgery was a bit invasive and bones didn't have ... to have if he didn't want to. @Jonnybones decided against surgery and we immediately met with dana and lorenzo the next day to get his next fight scheduled ... For the record, every doctor @Jonnybones saw was a @UFC referred doctor. The very last one on the day before surgery thought against it ... No @Jonnybones is not fighting rashad. Rashad is fighting phil davis. I'll let you know who or when jon will fight real soon ... (he'll fight again) by the end of the year. ... And just so we're clear, @Jonnybones is not medically cleared to fight until June 11, But hey, I guess that's all a lie, huh?"
Essentially, Jones visits multiple doctors that all tell him to go ahead and have the surgery. Who can blame him for doing so? Sure, he's passing up a big money fight against Evans (and it looks really bad in the process) but he's still young and now's the time to get it fixed.
But then he sees one doctor who tells him he doesn't have to do it and Jones goes with his opinion. If it seems odd to go with the minority in a matter pertaining to one's health, it's because it is.
Still, that's all well and good.
However, Kawa also says Jones will NOT be fighting Evans as originally planned and they immediately met with the UFC to get their next fight planned, again, NOT against Evans.
Is there some reason for the two not to be fighting now that Jones is clear? Even if he can't train until June 11, that still leaves eight weeks until Aug. 6, a full two weeks more than his training camp for his fight against "Shogun."
I'm not bashing Kawa for the way he is handling this situation, although it does seem a bit reckless to update matters on Twitter given the constraints of 140 characters or less.
That said, all of this has only served to make it look like Jones does, in fact, not want to fight Evans.
This can be traced all the way back to comments he made before the two ever had a problem with one another when he said, "There are a lot of ways teammates can avoid fighting each other. They can fake an injury."
Is he faking this injury? Nope. It's a legitimate injury. It's simply a matter of perspective.
The ailment to his thumb is very real and definitely needs repairing; however, he was dealing with the same problem when he smashed Matt Hamill, when he obliterated Brandon Vera and when he decimated Rua to win the title. He outright admitted it does not affect his striking or grappling. Which means he can do whatever he wants in the cage, which is exactly what we've seen him do since he debuted in the UFC back in Aug. 2008.
Ducking Rashad Evans? Probably not. In fact, it's highly doubtful that he is.
But it sure as hell looks like it to the fans when they look at the situation as a whole.
It doesn't help matters that Rashad, a promotional master and genius at moving the pawns across the chess board, is exploiting the situation to ruin his former friends image by claiming he's avoiding a fight against him in the midst of all this turmoil.
They both claimed to get the best of each other in practice when they trained together in New Mexico. It's too bad that it's a very real possibility we'll never get to see who is better inside the Octagon, no matter whose fault that is.
As far as the battle in the media goes, neither one of them is winning. Fight fans would love to pick a side in this war but they're facing a reality that becomes clearer and clearer every day -- they hate both of these guys.
Fair or not, that's just the way it is.