Jon Jones: Rashad Evans Trained with a Kid; Now He Meets the Man

April 16, 2012
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What is there left to say that hasn’t already been said?

The rivalry that’s been brewing between former teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans has been going on for over a year now, and there are very few secrets left to reveal.

The story has been told time and time again. Once close friends and training partners, now bitter enemies and opponents, Jones and Evans are headed on a collision course for one of the biggest fights in UFC history.

Evans has said in numerous interviews that he’s in Jones’ head, and that he’s mentally stronger than his former teammate. Jones has fired back with much of the same ideology at Evans.

The talk will all come to a close on April 21 at UFC 145 in Atlanta, but has the talk and the mind games already been overblown as the two fighters head into the bout?

“I believe so yeah,” UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones answered when asked that very question on MMAWeekly Radio. “I think Rashad’s the one playing into it more than some of the fans. Like he’s always attacking my personality, Jon’s fake, Jon’s cocky, and I’m not really here to judge who Rashad is as a person. I could really care less who Rashad is as a person.

“Ultimately I’m here not to make new friends, but to provide for my family, so that’s why I’m here. I actually like the fact that he’s so focused on my character and things cause I’m sitting here focusing on tactics, focusing on the love of martial arts, not the hatred for Rashad Evans.”

One of the things that Evans has focused on during his verbal barrage towards Jones are the infamous training sessions the two fighters had together when both working under famed coach Greg Jackson.

Evans says time and time again that he got the best of Jones, and it’s led him to believe that he’s the fighter that will bring the champion’s reign to an end. For his part, however, Jones doesn’t dispute that there were times when Evans may have been the better fighter, but those days are past.

“It doesn’t matter that we trained together, absolutely not,” said Jones. “I think I benefited a lot training with him, I think he has some benefits training with me, but I think it’s funny everyone’s saying ‘Rashad’s going to be the guy because he has Jon’s number and he knows the way to beat Jon.’ I don’t think people really give me credit for my intelligence, or if they think I’m a great athlete who gets lucky, I don’t know what their thinking is.”

Jones is humble enough to admit that there were days when Evans was a bear in the training room, and probably tagged him with more shots than he fired back, or maybe landed more takedowns, but does that mean almost two years later that he’s still the superior fighter?

Not in the least.

“I’m a very intelligent guy, and everything that Rashad thinks he remembers, I remember so much, and I’m going to use everything that I remember. I feel equally if not more empowered that I used to train with Rashad. I’ll admit in 2010 he was a little bit better of a fighter than me, stronger. If you watch my fights, I was so skinny when I first got to the UFC, I didn’t really have to cut weight. So he was a little better than me, stronger than me, in 2010 when he talks about the time he actually held me down,” Jones admitted.

“Fact is in 2011 when I was training for the Ryan Bader fight it was a complete different story. Something switched in 2011 in me and I’ve been finishing fights ever since. I think he’s going to realize, I’m not the 2010 little kid. It’s 2012 now and I’m an adult, and I’m the one that believes whole heartedly, and trains a lot different than I trained in 2010.”

There are plenty of facts to back up Jones’ claims. While Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko would probably tell Evans that Jones found his “man” strength in 2010 (Jones finished both by first-round TKO in 2010), it’s in 2011 where he found his stride and became one of the most dominant fighters in the game.

After submitting Ryan Bader to kick off the year, Jones stepped in on short notice for Evans and proceeded to dismantle Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to win the UFC light heavyweight title.

Several months later Jones made his first title defense and in equally impressive fashion made short work of former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, before taking yet another fight in December, when he choked out another past champion in Lyoto Machida.

Jon Jones’ 2011 may not have only been a great year, but maybe the greatest year in all of MMA history. And that’s the animal that Rashad Evans now has to contend with at UFC 145.

But for all the back biting, harsh words, and sore feelings, Jones still refuses to say that he harbors any ill will towards Evans. When the fight is over on April 21, Jones is more than willing to shake Evans’ hand and put everything in the past because beyond anything that’s been said leading into this fight that seemed personal, for him, it’s all about business.

“100 percent. That’s why I try not to attack Rashad’s character too much. I’ve been kind of on the defense for the most part. I have nothing against Rashad,” said Jones.

“I’m a guy who’s trying to provide for his kids. This is my job. At the end of the day, it’s how I pay the bills. I have no hatred for him whatsoever. I’m going to go out there, win this fight, and keep moving forward with my life.”

Listen to Jon Jones’ full interview from MMAWeekly Radio below:

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  • shereko

    The guy is a helluva fighter, that can’t be denied… and I’m not a fan of Rashad at all, but Rashad is right Jon is cocky and seems pretty fake. “I’m a very intelligent guy, and everything that Rashad thinks he remembers, I remember so much”… sounds pretty cocky to me. Plus why in every interview he works so sound so smart and philosophical, its not working, just say what you want… even in this article the stuff he says just seems like he’s trying to hard. I want to be a fan of this guy, but he makes it so tough to be, he thinks he’s smarter than everyone else and thinks he’s Bruce Lee. He’s acting more like Douche Lee.

    • brianhussey

      Ehhh … wrong. You have to think about what the media, especially in a hyped up fight, is going to do with words and using context the way they wish. I believe he knows that and is very careful with his words. Unlike some who speak without thinking. I assume you are a fan of Anthony Johnson (out of the UFC) and Miguel Torres (almost out of the UFC?). Those guys weren’t careful with their words and…..hmmm??

      • shereko

        wow dude, first “Ehhh … wrong” thats your opinion, its an opinion site so not thinking you have any right to say “wrong” to anyone. Just because you want to spoon with Jones, thats on you. 2nd, how can you assume from what I wrote that I’m a fan of Anthony Johnson and Torres? That makes no sense and you lost all credibility. Bet you’re a fan of Nick Diaz then because he’s a dick until the fight is over then he’s respectful. Jones thinks he’s the greatest ever… and maybe someday will be but, not yet…

    • KBEsq

      I like Jones. I think it’s difficult to be him. Imagine being in his shoes and doing 20 interviews a day. You can do 19 humble interviews, and then, maybe in that 20th, the interviewer caught you after you just worked out to your favorite song, or maybe you had a rush of adrenaline, and you make a comment that sounds cocky. The media isn’t going to run those 19 other boring interviews. They’re going to run the one where Jones incites drama.

      All of us are guilty of sounding cocky sometimes, but we have the luxury of not having a microphone in front of our face every time. I respect your opinion, but I just think we’re expecting too much from such a young guy who has made it big faster than any other fighter in history. Give the guy some time.

      • shereko

        Now that I do agree with, KBEsq and at least you articulated it in a way to respect the point of view. He is young, and like I said he is good… which is fine, and really its not bad to be cocky, if it helps fill in that fine like if you waver in confidence in an aspect. But, his denial of being completely cocky needs some work. He’s not a bad guy at all, doesn’t get into trouble, and granted I don’t think athletes are role models, he’s not a bad guy. I think he should learn on the outside the cage aspects from his brother, but yes you’re right he’s young, he can use some time.

    • rsnowbass

      I can see where you’re coming from and can appreciate that. It seem important to me that he’s liked by his fans and always wants to say the “right” things which at times I see comes off as fake to some.

      For me, I like his work ethic, dedication to the sport and I love the fact that he’s trying to embrace being the phenom / hero the media is trying to make him out to be.

      Remember…he’s still a kid (young man) at 24. That’s a lot of pressure at only 24. I’d say he’s handling his new found fame and Hype the best he knows how…

      But hey…that’s just like, my opinion man.


      • shereko

        rsnowbass… yeah I agree and can see that, he has a lot thrown on him, and wants to be that “GSP personality”. He wants to change the world like he said before the “Ali of MMA” but, like you said, Ali made mistakes early on also. People change in front of a camera too, thats subconscious. He’ll get better, I hope.

  • shakejunt

    this kid must think he’s a greek god or something. i mean, just look at him, doing an interview. it really grinds my gears how he’s just answering all those questions with that arrogant mouth of his while rashad is at home slaving over a hot stove.

    • brianhussey

      When Rashad wins a fight, that is when he shows his cockiness!!! Have you seen his gloating? There is a reason why fans hate the guy. Jones is not cocky after the fight, but very respectful. He believes in himself, and he is labeled cocky? At least he shows it all the time except after the fight, when he is of upmost respect!!! Join the ranks of the “old and Hall of Fame headed” Rashad because that is the only glory you will see moving forward!