By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Any “friendship” that Rashad Evans and Jon Jones held prior to Jones saying in March that he’d be willing to fight Evans should the UFC want that fight has gone completely out the window, and the lead up to their eventual fight – expected for September or October – is going to get very interesting.
An interview Jones did with ESPN’s Josh Gross this week has drawn the ire of Evans once again, who took to Twitter in response to comments made by the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jones commented on their time training together in the interview, and it was a comment meant to garner a response.
“We fought each other in practice,” he said. “A finish has been possible several times and it has always been me finishing him. I never did it out of respect that he was the elder of the school. It’s against protocol in a way. Some people would do it but I believe in tradition.
“He has a lot to study. I have a lot to study, but I get to study[ing] more in-depth. He gets to study[ing] and gets a headache.”
Obviously, Evans didn’t take to kindly to the notion that Jones wouldn’t finish him in practice out of “respect”, especially when said respect didn’t apply to the gym’s policy of not fighting teammates. In a series of Tweets both aimed at Jones and responding to fans on Twitter, Evans responded:
“[Jones] will [be] mma’s version of Milli Vinilli… Wait until the curtain comes down [cause] it will!”
“[I’m] telling [you] that record is about [to] start skipping! ‘Girl [you] know, girl [you] know, know,… It’s true, true true’ (laughs)”
“[Jones] is a swagger jacker”
“He is fake! The fighting is off the hook but as a person he is fake!”
To Jones, whose only response was “#cmonson” – “It’s been on!! Get off your own fan bus [cause] nobody is driving! [You] ain’t as raw as [you] believe & I’m gonna show ya!”
“I’m just annoyed how he said he could’ve finished me in practice.. [Are you] kidding me?! (laughs) This dude is nuts!!”
“[Jones] must [be] high! [Cause I] remember him looking at me begging me [to] let him up [cause] he couldn’t get back [to] his feet in training.”
Finally, to Jones – “[You] ain’t forgot what I can do [to you]! Don’t believe your hype! [Ask] your coaches! I’m gonna introduce the world [to] the real [you]!”
Is it September yet?
Penick’s Analysis: In the same interview with Josh Gross, Jones admitted that he says things on purpose in order to drive controversy and interest. His exact comment was “I’m not afraid to push the envelope. Controversy is good for your career. It gets your Twitter followers up. Some people are going to love it. Some people are going to hate it. I did it on purpose.” So I think he knew exactly what his comment was going to get from Rashad. Whether or not he was given trouble by Evans in training doesn’t matter right now, because they’ll be developing separately over the next six months or so for this fight. It’s going to be huge, and there’s going to be even more of this type of thing from the two. It’s going to keep people interested, it’s going to make people take sides, it’s going to get two factions of fans heading into this fight and it’s all going to be fantastic.