On Apr. 21, 2012, the main event at UFC 145 will feature a grudge match unlike any we've ever seen, as "Hotlanta" will play host to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight title bout between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans.
The former training partners have been engaged in one of the most widely publicized disputes in the mixed martial arts (MMA) community, and they will finally get their chance to settle things, once and for all, inside the cage at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georiga, next month.
"Suga" appeared tonight (March 22, 2012) on Spike TV's "MMA Uncensored Live" to discuss his upcoming bout and some of the bad blood between he and the man he seeks to dethrone. First, he spoke to Jones' accusation that Evans is "fueled by jealousy:"
"I'm not jealous of Jon Jones. You know, whatever Jon Jones has in life and whatever he's accomplished, he's earned. I can't want what another man has, because when it's time for me to have something, undeniably, it will happen for me. It's really foolish for me to be jealous of anybody because being jealous isn't gonna bring anything faster for me."
After the jump, check out what else Evans had to say about his former teammate, as well as the man he used to call "Coach."
Evans was asked about the difference between his former training environment and his new life in Florida where he exchanges leather with the "Blackzillians." Rashad says his new home reminds him of the early days training at Jackson's MMA:
"The difference between training there and training here is...there's more attention, and the fighters here are how the fighters were there when I first started training at Jackson's. That's hungry and vicious and helping each other out. So, the environment here mimics what it was at the beginning at Jackson's."
With that said, Evans has mellowed his tone a bit within the last year or so, regarding his stance toward Greg Jackson. Here's what he had to say when he was asked if he thinks Jackson's is a great gym because of the fighters who train there, or if the fighters are great because they've trained with Jackson:
"You know, I will never take anything away from Greg Jackson as a coach. Greg Jackson is an amazing coach, and he's one of the best coaches that I had. But, to that fact, there are a lot of guys who flock there because he is a great coach and that is a great training environment. It's a little bit of both. He has produced some great fighters, and, at the same time, great fighters have come and trained underneath him."
One of the areas that many are expecting Evans to look exploit is the use of the takedown. To date, no one has taken Jon Jones down. Evans believes he can get him to the mat if he wants to, but he's not overly preoccupied with that aspect of the fight:
"No, it's not playing in my head, the fact that he's never been taken down. I know how to get him down. There's been time to take him down in practice and stuff like that. But, practice is practice. When it comes to real time, we'll see what I can do, but for the most part, I'm not really worried about the fact that somebody has been taken down or not."
Sometimes, a feud as over the top as the one between Jones and Evans can come off as scripted or rehearsed. According to Evans, you can believe that the venom, in this case, is completely sincere:
"No, everything is 100-percent real. Unfortunately, it's 100-percent real. It's like one of those things where we had that respect for each other. We had that connection with each other. We were on the same team and everything. There's a lot that goes into that when you're training and sweating with somebody and you're giving everything you have to that person. A lot goes into that, so, there's a lot of emotion that's still there and still raw."
Finally, Rashad was posed the question of whether or not he'd choose to be able to go back in time, change things and be lifelong friends with Jones, or if he'd rather just beat his ass:
"At this point, uh...I'd rather beat his ass. To be honest. I'd rather beat his ass. But you know, it's kinda crazy 'cuz I'm goin' off the emotion that I'm feelin' right now. You know? But, I dunno. A friend for life is a pretty good friend, so I guess maybe the friend for life would be one that lasts longer 'cuz a friend in the cage is just for in the cage, but a friend for life is something you'd always have."
One thing is for sure. When the cage door closes at UFC 145, the talk won't matter anymore and fans will finally get to see just who is the superior fighter in this bitter rivarly.
Does the talk get you Maniacs excited for Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans? Or are you ready for the chatter to end and for each fighter to put their money where their mouth is?