Rashad Evans held up his end of the bargain to keep the much anticipated showdown between he and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones alive by defeating Phil Davis this past weekend (Jan. 28, 2012) at UFC on Fox 2 via unanimous decision.
Evans was originally set to receive a shot at the 205-pound title against Mauricio Rua back at UFC 128, but an injury to "Suga" forced him to bow out and his then training partner and friend, Jones, stepped in as a replacement to face "Shogun."
The rest, as they say, is history.
Jones defeated Rua and began his impressive championship run , which ultimately marked the beginning of the end of the friendship between Evan and Jones who trained side-by-side in Albuquerque, N.M., at Jackson's MMA.
Evans has since then parted ways with Greg Jackson's camp and is now a member of Imperial Athletics mixed martial arts (MMA) team, or, "The Blackzillians" as they like to be referred as.
However, even though Evans proved that "Mr. Wonderful" was not on his level by winning the fight handily, Jones was not too impressed with his performance and with his overall evolution, for that matter, in MMA since parting ways with the famed camp down in the 505.
Speaking on The MMA Hour, Jones talks about Evans' performance against Davis and talks about the possibility of rekindling their past relationship once the dust settles in their title fight at UFC 145 in Atlanta, Ga., on April 21, 2012.
Check it out:
"I really didn't see much progression. He left teams, I think Mike Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson, really was a great fit for him and they really learned his style and really was teaching him a legit style and I think in his new program I really haven't seen much progression. I didn't see any progression. I feel as if he's coming down the other side of the hill, even his body looked softer. I think his top control looked a little tighter and his passes looked decent. With that being said, Phil, man I don't know what got into him. He didn't really look like a lion, he kind of looked like a sheep out there. He didn't come with much, but with Rashad I really didn't see much progression."
When asked if there would be any chance at renewing their friendship once the dust settles at UFC 145, "Bones" had this to say:
"I definitely don't mean to come off as disrespectful to Rashad by any means, I am just extremely passionate about this fight and I don't want to come across as being a prick towards the guy. I'd love to have a respectful relationship with him because; I actually, deep down liked hanging with the guy. He was cool man, we had good times, you know, we did a lot of good stuff together and it sucked that a competition came between our friendship. So after the fight, I just hope that the respect can be restored. Friendship is not necessary but respect should be restored."
After a heated war of words, the two former training partners were scheduled to collide in 2011, but injuries to both fighters on separate occasions, delayed the much anticipated showdown.
Now that Jones has decided to cut his vacation time short and Evans preserved his title shot, they will have their chance to settle their differences as they are scheduled to swing leather at UFC 145 in little more than three months.
After months of back-and-forth trash talk, and now that the fight has been made official, anyone surprised at the rare, yet pleasant trip down memory lane that Jones had to share about Rashad? Can peace be restored once they go toe-to-toe?
Then again, maybe not.