UFC president Dana White finally got his way on Saturday night when two team-mates who had previously refused to fight each other – new UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Rashad Evans – finally agreed to do battle in the Octagon.
The two men had claimed to be firm friends since training together at Jackson’s MMA, but just days after the fight announcement cracks in their relationship are already beginning to show.
In an interview with BloodyElbow yesterday Evans admitted that he was stunned when Jones stated during an interview with Ariel Helwani at the start of the month that he would be willing to fight him.
“I did my best to help and I really felt that our friendship was on another level…but that wasn’t the case. When the first opportunity came and he said that he would fight me if Dana said so, that to me stung more than anything.”
Evans goes as far as to label Jones as ‘Judas’ for what he feels is a betrayal of their friendship.
“It’s one thing to say something in an interview but the least you could have picked up the phone and been like, “man I did an interview today and they kind of put me on the spot with a rough question and I answered it this way.” At least give me the heads up so that way I know and not look at it if he’s Judas or something. You know who Judas is? That interview was some backstabbing s**t but now it’s like whatever because now I know the game he is playing.”
Upon hearing his remarks Jones fired back a subtle verbal jab of his own.
“I don’t know, maybe he’s trying to play a victim role,” the 23 year-old told a fan asking him about the situation on Twitter.
Later another fan asked what the most dangerous thing about facing his former training partner would be.
“Him trying to hold me down round after round,” Jones replied cheekily, indicating that the gloves were now off.
Evans, who has now taken to calling his opponent ‘Judas Jones’ later shrugged off the remark.
“I love his confidence & arrogance! The more he believes his press clippings the better it is 4 me.”
So it looks like there’s bad blood beginning to brew here, something that Evans is accustomed to after having been involved in one of the most heated rivalries in UFC history against Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson last year.
This is new territory for the young champion though who’s previously kept his trash-talking to a minimum as he’s made his remarkably quick ascent up the 205lb ladder.
If this continues it’ll certainly be good for the UFC as these kind of rivalries always attract plenty of fan interest and media attention, but it’ll be interesting to see how Jones in particular handles the added pressure that comes with it.