If Rashad Evans had his way, he’d be fighting Jon Jones this September in Denver, but he’s happy to face Phil Davis instead because he’s not sure his former training partner ever really wanted to fight him in the first place.
The controversy between Evans and Jones has fired up ever since Jones stepped in to replace Evans at UFC 128 and defeated Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua to claim the UFC light heavyweight title. From that point on, the one time friends and teammates became bitter rivals.
According to the former light heavyweight champion, all the talk surrounding a fight between he and Jones for UFC 133 in Philadelphia are false because they were never scheduled to fight in August.
Evans says he was in talks to face Jones in Denver at a show that is currently rumored to take place on Sept. 24, almost eight weeks after the date of UFC 133.
“Me and Jon had a tentative date scheduled and I know this because we had the same management team. It was in Denver, it was in September. Upon that date being tentatively scheduled, Malki (Kawa) and Jon decided that Jon needed to (undergo) a thumb surgery, which he didn’t need, which didn’t inhibit him from becoming the world champion, but all of a sudden he needs this thumb surgery. After that, he did not get the surgery, but they already pulled out of the fight and said he won’t be able to fight,” Evans said when appearing on MMAWeekly Radio.
“So given all of what I just said, it doesn’t seem like Jon really wants to fight me at all because he had an opportunity to fight me, but he decided to pass it up to get some elective surgery, which he didn’t have. So everything that he says after this is now after the fact and it doesn’t really matter to me.”
This revelation differs from the point of view expressed by Jones’ manager Malki Kawa, who stated recently in an interview with MMAWeekly.com that they were told an Aug. 6 date by the UFC, and Evans was pushing for that date as well.
“Rashad was pushing for an August fight. I think the UFC wanted that fight to happen in August as well. We said to him since the beginning his hand was hurt, we couldn’t commit to an August fight, based on the timeline, he needed some time off,” Kawa stated.
Evans and Jones were once under the same management team lead by Kawa and partner Glenn Robinson. Recently, the team split apart under amicable circumstances with Jones staying under Kawa’s management team and Evans going with Robinson.
While the once partners have maintained a professional relationship after working together, Evans points to his deteriorating relationship with Kawa as to one of the reasons he no longer wanted to be represented by his now former manager.
“To be honest, I think that probably me and Malki had a disagreement that kind of soured the whole relationship in a lot of ways. Malki was very vocal and saying things like ‘Jon Jones is going to destroy me’ and stuff like that when he’s supposed to be representing me,” Evans revealed.
“He’s saying to people and he doesn’t know who these people are and he’s speaking loud because Malki has a very big mouth, and he just wants to be heard. So he’d say things to people and then people that I know would get back to me and be like ‘listen bro I really care about you, and I don’t think that you’re being represented in the right light. You need to talk to your management team and get a new manager.’ They wouldn’t tell me what they meant because they didn’t want to cause conflict, but they wanted to tell me what I needed to know.”
Evans says the situation hit a fever pitch when a close friend revealed what past accomplices had left out.
“One of my friends pulled me to the side and said ‘you need to adjust this Malki because Malki is your manager, he needs to stop going around saying he represents you in one breath and the next breath saying that Jon Jones is going to destroy you.’ Whether he believes that or not, that’s irrelevant,” said Evans.
“The simple fact that he’s going around saying he represents you and then he’s spitting venom on your name. When in reality, he’s got two clients he should on the outside at least look like he’s representing them both to the fullest and not putting one above the other.”
In the end, Evans claims it did cause problems between him and his former manager.
“That caused a big conflict in the whole situation,” Evans stated.
Regardless of past situations with management or even now that the fight with Jon Jones isn’t happening, Evans is moving on and focusing on the task at hand.
He faces a former NCAA champion at UFC 133 in Philly, and while he still has a burning desire to face Jon Jones, Evans knows that Phil Davis deserves his utmost respect and attention.
“Right now my focus is on Phil Davis, and Phil Davis deserves my respect and deserves my full attention because you know what? This kid is no joke,” Evans said.
“Jon Jones, he had his chance. Jon Jones if he really thought he was as great as he was, he would have took the fight. If he’s so great, if he’s so good, if he’s going to smash me and all the other things he said he was going to do, then he would have took the fight. The simple fact that he didn’t take the fight, it makes me believe that’s not the case.”
Here’s a clip from Evans’ recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio Weekend Edition…