UFC 145: Jones vs. EvansMar 17 2012, Posted in: Fighters
Over the course of the last 12 months, tensions have brewed between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and his ex-teammate – the former UFC light heavyweight champion “Suga” Rashad Evans.
Jon Jones reached the pinnacle of the UFC’s light heavyweight division after his then teammate, Rashad Evans, faced an injury during training camp and was forced to bow out of a scheduled bout with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Fresh off the heels of a submission win over prospect Ryan Bader, Jones accepted the title fight against Shogun on only a few weeks’ notice. He dominated his way to victory against Shogun and became the youngest champion in UFC history.
Even prior to Jones’ bout against Shogun, tensions began to mount when Jones stated in an interview that if the UFC brass requested it, he would willingly fight Evans, despite their friendship. Evans did not take to this well, and it eventually led to him leaving Greg Jackson’s MMA team in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Now just five weeks away from the biggest grudge match in recent UFC history, the champion and challenger both feel that they will emerge victorious at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia on April 21, 2012.
“My opponent and I have a storied history that has been well-documented. He thinks he knows everything I bring to the table, but a lot has changed since he left the gym a year ago. I’m a much different fighter than the one he trained with. I hope he is ready to see and feel that difference,” said Jones.
At the same time, although Rashad Evans likely concedes that Jones’ rise up the UFC rankings has been meteoric, he appears skeptical of the young champion’s abilities, while remaining confident that he will pick up the win.
“I know I will beat Jon Jones. He can talk about improvements he’s made, but there are still some things in his game he can never change. He’s a long, rangy fighter and I’m going to get inside, unleash my stuff, take him down and ground and pound him. I’m at a level in my career where I can take down and ground and pound anyone.”
One edge that Evans will undoubtedly have over all of Jones’ opponents from this past year is the fact that they have trained together in the past.
“I know all about him, all about his coaches and all about his camp. I could probably tell you what he’s doing in the gym right now. He’s in the exact same environment doing the exact same things with the exact same people. But I’m in a different environment, I knew I had to learn, had to mix things up and I had to change. Jon has no idea what I will do on the night,” said Evans.
“I’ve got the advantage mentally, too. He’s not ‘Jon Jones unbeatable champion’ to me. I know the real Jon, the nervous kid who would ask me to tell him how to dress, how to talk and how to fight. I know how he reacts when things don’t go his way, how he can’t handle it mentally.”
Champion Jon Jones, however, is ready and willing to prove the skeptics wrong once again.
“I have been able to prove many of my doubters wrong over the course of the last 12 months. Some said I couldn’t submit a legend, and I did that. Some said I couldn’t take a punch, and I did that. Now some are saying that I will have trouble against someone who knows me so well.”
“They are wrong. Wait until they see what I do on April 21,” said Jones.
UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans takes place live on pay per view on April 21, 2012 from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.