Fighting someone you consider a friend in mixed martial arts (MMA) -- or any other combat sport for that matter -- is a bridge most fighters will have to eventually cross at some point in their careers.
But, the dilemma can be avoided, according to Mike Passenier, owner of "Mike's Gym" in Amsterdam, Holland, and trainer to top strikers such as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight contender Alistair Overeem and kickboxing greats Badr Hari, Gokhan Saki, and Melvin Manhoef among others.
Passenier says if fighters simply "stay on point" and don't become "soft," then they can carry on about their business, delivering exciting performances and not worrying about turning down fights and/or taking it easy inside the cage and/or ring.
Either way you slice it, friends fighting friends usually means the match will probably never reach its true potential (via Fighters Only):
"We can say ‘hi' but I don't want to your friend because then I can't fight against you. And if I can't fight against you then it costs money. And if I don't bring money home I can't feed my children and that's a problem. Because a man is supposed to feed his children and support his family. And if you are too friendly to each other you cannot give a good fight. Well, if you look at the K-1 MAX fight between [my guys] Murthel Groenhart and Arthur Kyshenko, there you have a rare example of two guys who can be friends and beat each others' heads in. But most of the time its ‘Oh I don't want to fight him. He's my friend, I talk to him on Facebook, I was playing with his children', you know? Don't get soft man. Stay on point. Just give the audience what they deserve, a good fight. It's not about one friend saving another friend's life."
Chael Sonnen and the aforementioned Evans will likely disagree with Passenier's view as the two talented UFC Light Heavyweight standouts recently agreed to put aside their mutual admiration to exchange blows in the center of the cage at UFC 167 on Nov. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
And while both "Suga" and "American Gangster" have declared there will be no animosity toward one another ahead of their "Sin City" showdown, they have also promised to leave it all in the cage come fight night.
Overeem, meanwhile, has never had the issue of having to fight a close "friend" inside the Octagon so far. He nearly had to compete against his long-time training partner, Semmy Schilt, under the K-1 banner, but the bout, which he predicted would "be like sparring" never came to fruition.
How about it Maniacs, seeing as how the fight game is a legit money-making business that most athletes rely on as their only source of income for their families, can you understand the "all business" approach to the sport?
We all know how UFC President Dana White feels about the "personal issue."