The showdown between former friends and teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, the main event at Saturday’s UFC 145 in Atlanta, has been shaping up as one of the most heated grudge matches in UFC history.
But the flames of the fire between the two aren’t reaching as high as they once did.
Both men seem to be tiring of all the talk of their fallout and friction. They just want to get in the Octagon and prove who the better fighter is.
In what was expected to be a blistering verbal sparring match between Jones and Evans at the UFC 145 pre-fight press conference on Wednesday, the two were more reserved than they’ve ever been since their split as teammates. They were event quite complimentary of one another.
“I had a year to kind of deal with the situation. I’ve made my piece in a lot of ways with the situation,” said Evans. “I’m not really that emotionally invested into it any more.”
For sure, the story of their fallout, and that of Evans’ fallout with his former coaches at Jackson’s Martial Arts and Fitness, has been covered to the ends of the Earth and back.
And at the level of sport that these two are fighting at, both considered among the best fighters ever in mixed martial arts, wasting precious resources on daily squabbles and trash talk is counterproductive.
It’s getting to the point where all that can be said, has been. There’s just one final step in the conflict… resolution.
“I think it’s funny because the more you hear the story, the more we all go at it and talk about the coaches and try to figure out who is telling the truth, it’s almost therapeutic for everybody,” said Jones. “So I think this fight will be like the last counseling session for the whole situation.”
Both men are tired of talking. With days dwindling down to mere hours before these two athletes have to step into a cage and play a game of human chess, neither wants to waist more energy on the pettiness of who did what to whom, or who said this about that.
They need to conserver their energy for what really matters, the competition in the cage on Saturday night.
“When you talk about something over and over again it kind of loses a little bit of the emotion behind it, and you can kind of make piece with a lot of things,” said Evans. “We’ve been going back and forth and it’s just been a long process and we are both just tired.”
“At the end of the day, me and Rashad are both winners,” added Jones. “Rashad has a lot of haters, which I actually think is undeserved. I think he actually is a good person. But he’s a winner. He’s always come out with a win. He’s one of those guys on the team, who maybe he’s not the most popular, but he’s reliable, he’s durable. I know that that’s what I’m against.
“In my end, it’s time to play the game. As far as a friendship afterward, who knows what God wants for us in the future.”