It was one of the most publicized disputes in the history of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in particular and mixed martial arts (MMA), in general. It was right up there with Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz and Dana White. Tito Ortiz and ... you get the picture.
The spat between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Rashad Evans was one that involved layers of hurt feelings and bad blood that boiled up over championship ambitions, by both fighters, which ended up bringing about a fight they both said would never happen.
They were teammates. They trusted each other. But, like anything else, once money and stature came into play, it all got twisted.
"Suga" had his chance to shut up "Bones," once and for all, when the two squared off at UFC 145 in Atlanta, Ga., on April 21, 2012. Unfortunately, the result was Jones using Evans for his personal punching bag for five rounds.
A rematch for Evans is nowhere in sight. In fact, there have even been rumblings that the former champion may end up moving down to 185 pounds. In the meantime, Rashad has set his sights on helping new friend and teammate, Vitor Belfort, as he prepares to do what he was unable to: defeat Jon Jones.
And, he thinks he has a good shot at doing just that:
Evans appeared on Spike TV's "MMA Uncensored Live," where he talked about his experience at UFC 145. He believes he walked away with experience that he will be able to share with others who will try to solve the puzzle that he couldn't:
"I picked up a lot. I was in there for five rounds. I saw a lot, and I felt a lot. I have a pretty good idea of some the things he's strong at and some of the things he's weak at."
Ultimately, Evans believes his stamina and pace were his main adversary in the loss to Jones. He also cited other weaknesses he was able to discern. He was unwilling to divulge those supposed soft spots, but he has shared them with Belfort, and he thinks it may be enough to help "The Phenom" finish the job that he started in April:
"I hit him with a few good shots, and I had a few good opportunities, in the fight, but I just wasn't able to stay at the level for the whole fight. I've been working on myself to make sure that never happens again. I let myself down, in that area -- being conditioned to fight that kind of fight and to keep the kind of pace I needed to stay at. I think that Vitor -- we train him enough to be able to fight where I wasn't able to."
If Belfort pulls off the upset and wins the belt, Evans will be placed in the center of the very same storm he found himself in with Jones. Would he fight a teammate? Even if it meant that his title aspirations depended on it?
If you believe the story he's selling, the answer is no:
"No. I'm not gonna fight Belfort. I'll figure out a fight for me. You know, Jon Jones was saying, 'I dunno what Rashad's doing. He's coaching somebody to fight for the belt that he wants.' I do want the belt, but when you compete, and you really have a love for competing, you understand what it's really about. What's for me is for me, and what's for somebody else is for somebody else. I believe I'm gonna get mine, either way. I don't see a problem with helping somebody else become champion."
He's still not ruling it out, but when he looks into the magic crystal ball, the response is "not likely:"
"I would consider dropping to 185, but the problem is, I'm kinda heavy right now. I might have to do a practice cut to get down there before I make any commitment to fight at 185. I've never cut weight like that, not since college. And, I always told myself, I said, 'If I compete again, there's no way that I'll turn myself into what I did in college, as far as living just to cut weight and stuff like that.' If the offer is interesting enough, I'll drop down. But, if not, I'll stay at 205. It makes no sense for me to drop down to 185 to be right in the same position I'm in now at 205."
Make sure to join us, along with the rest of your fellow maniacs, in the LIVE coverage thread for UFC 152, which is scheduled to kick off around 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night, Sept. 22, 2012.