Rashad Evans' well publicized feud with current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, is now a distant memory. The two former friends duked it out at UFC 145 this past April, with "Bones" earning the nod over "Suga" on the judges' scorecards, putting their rivalry to rest.
However, the two will now compete once again -- sort of -- as Evans is currently serving as one of Vitor Belfort's head trainers for the Brazilian's title shot against Jones, which will take place at UFC 152 on Sept. 22, 2012, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
On top of giving him pointers inside the gym, Evans will be in "The Phenom's" corner, shouting instructions against his former training partner come fight night. It's a good move, really, on Belfort's part to enlist the services the "Blackzilian." After all, Evans has spent countless hours in the gym with Jones, as well as spending 25 minutes going toe-to-toe inside the cage.
Met with the questions of an eventual showdown with Belfort should the Brazilian defeat Jones, Evans remarked that the prospect is the furthest thing from his mind, saying that he is only focused on helping Belfort become the champion and training him for the title fight has nothing to do with him personally.
Appearing on today's (Sept. 10, 2012) episode of "The MMA Hour," Evans talked about training Belfort and what's next for him in the UFC, as well as offered some words of wisdom to Jones.
Check it out:
"As far as if Vitor becomes light-heavyweight champ, that's great, that's what I would want. The way things work out right now, I don't know how far I am away from getting a title shot. You never know with the UFC, so I'm just going to keep fighting and competing to be a champion, and whatever breaks free, breaks free. If I get an opportunity at 185 and it's a serious opportunity, then I'll take it. If I get a fight, same thing at 205. I'm still pursuing the championship title in any way I can. Any shape, form or fashion. For me, helping him train is not so much about me. I want to help him become champion."
Evans says he isn't thinking about a future showdown with Belfort:
"I'm glad Vitor made me part of his journey to become champion. People want to always throw ego into it, like 'Rashad, what are you going to do?' And this and that. I'm not worried about that, man. My main focus is for Vitor, that's it. Everything else?It doesn't even matter right now. I'll cross whatever bridges I need to cross when I have to cross them. It just makes no sense to worry about things I don't need to worry about right now."
Evans also says Belfort has "more than a chance" at defeating Jones comes fight night in his observations of the bout:
"Yes, yes, he has more than a chance. I truly believe it, I truly believe it. Vitor has some of the best hands, the fastest hands and he is very fast and he's very explosive. You know what I'm saying? So I think Vitor makes it a fight. He goes in there and he makes it a fight."
Touching on the subject of Jones, Evans offered some words of advice to "Bones:"
"He's a phenomenal fighter. He's got a lot of craftiness, a lot of poise. Very patient. There are things he got better at since he became champion and since I trained with him. For the most part, he needs to be who he truly is. But, being who he truly is, is not a guy who is disliked. He can actually be a good person, but I think him slipping back and forth between the person who he thinks people want him to be and who he truly is has really messed him up. And he doesn't know where to come from now. He doesn't know who to be. So he's trying to balance out who he should really be. When he first came in, he was trying to be something a little too much of what he really wasn't."
When asked if he would ever give Jones advice if he asked for it, Evans says he wouldn't be opposed to it:
"Of course, if he ever needed me for anything like that, I'll be there to talk to him and to help him out if he needs it. And I don't know everything there is to know about life, either, so I'm sure if there's something I have a problem in life, I'm sure I can learn from him, too. I think right now, he needs to really sort out some things in his life as far as his management situation and just find some people on his team who's really going to give a true idea and true perspective of where he's really coming form because sometimes I think he's a little bit disillusioned. I think disillusion can cause a lot of harm to you."
When asked who he would like to fight next, Evans says bouts against Mauricio Rua and Lyoto Machida would be ideal for him, but is currently just waiting for a phone call from the UFC matchmakers to see what his next step in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career will be.
Rua is currently lined up to take on Alexander Gustafsson at UFC on Fox 5 in December, while Machida is hoping he will be next in line for a title shot, though UFC President Dana White says that "is not going to happen."
How about it Maniacs, what's your take on Evans' comments toward Jones? Can Evans help Belfort come out on top against his former training partner? Who do you think "Suga" should take on next inside the Octagon?