Rashad Evans was supposed to be fighting Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the title this Saturday at UFC 128. He waited while Shogun recovered from knee surgery and hasn't fought since beating Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 114 in May of last year.
But the fates intervened and a knee injury in training a few weeks back forced Evans to pull out of the fight.
That's where things got interesting as Jon Jones was offered the title shot in Rashad's place. Jones is Evans' teammate at Greg Jackson MMA and that camp has been adamant about not fighting each other, even for titles.
Jones crossed the line first by openly musing that he'd face Evans if that's what the UFC wanted. Rashad has fired back and now his camp is openly talking of a potential Jones-Evans bout.
Here's Evans' coach Trevor Wittman talking to Derek Suboticki from Head Kick Legend expressing what seems like resentment on Rashad's part:
Wittman: But he [Rashad] went off to help Jon Jones get ready for Bader which, stylistically, is a great opportunity to help Jon Jones, because Rashad and Bader are a lot alike - wrestling background.
Subo: Sure, sure.
TW: But, Jon Jones ain't nothing like Shogun.
TW: So to me, it's helping Jon, it's not helping Rashad. So, when this situation came out, I said, "Rashad, so what are you going to do?" because I feel Jon Jones will smash Shogun. I feel he's the next great in the sport. I feel Rashad is at the same level, at the top of the game... (Jon Jones is) still young in the game, and Rashad is not young in the game, he's in the older part of his career. It would be easier for Jon Jones to step away from the title and take a couple of years later.
Jon Jones and Rashad, it sounds like those guys are boys. Jon Jones came down to Jackson's and Rashad's at Denver a lot, so for them to fight it makes sense. Believe me, they aren't hanging out on weekends getting a bite to eat.
MMA Fighting spoke to Glenn Robinson of Authentic Sports Management, Evans' manager, and things might be getting even more complicated:
Robinson added that Evans is waiting to see what happens on Saturday night when his training partner and friend Jon Jones fights Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the UFC light heavyweight title. Should Jones win, UFC president Dana White has said that he would like to see Evans challenge Jones for the belt, and both fighters have begun to warm up to the idea of facing each other in the future.
"If they decided to fight, obviously they both can't train at the same place," Robinson said.
The manager also added that Evans wasn't sure if he would just train at Grudge Training Center in Colorado for the potential Jones fight or if he would set up shop at a new camp.
It's kind of amazing that everyone seems to take it as a given that Jon Jones will beat Shogun and take the title this Saturday. I wonder if Evans and his camp will realize that Dana White has played them if Shogun beats Jones and all of this talk and acrimony comes to nothing.