In my latest column for The Detroit News, I take a look at former Michigan State wrestler Rashad Evans, who faces Tito Ortiz at UFC 133 this weekend. I talked extensively with Evans along with friends Daniel Cormier and Muhammed Lawal and his coach Mike Van Arsdale.
Here's one segment of the story:
Evans gets a lot of flack for his honesty. Frequently booed at live events, Evans says he smiles and keeps moving. For him, things have heated up in the last several months as he left Greg Jackson's camp in New Mexico after a nasty breakup with former friend and current UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
The two were supposed to meet Saturday but Jones decided to undergo thumb surgery. Once Evans was booked to fight Davis, Jones and his camp decided not to have surgery, leaving a bitter taste in Evans' mouth. Jones instead will face Jackson at UFC 135 next month in Denver.
"As things develop, you start to see things how they really were," Evans said. "Things may not have been how you thought they were and that's the realization of the whole thing. You see someone as a great friend and someone you'll do anything for but they don't necessarily see you in the same light."
Van Arsdale, who came with Evans from Jackson's camp, echoed that, saying people can act like your best friend, but all they're trying to do is figure out how to beat you.
Jones is known for keeping a very tight public persona, something Evans called "fake," and noted, "you can't hide who you really are."
"He has to be careful what he tweets because he has that whole, 'Christ and I'm a Jesus guy' and all that stuff, so he can't say anything," Evans said. "He can't say how he really is. So he doesn't want to say anything (derogatory) or anything like that because people would be like, 'Oh, Jon, you're supposed to be from Christ.' And that whole 'I'm from Christ' and stuff like that, that's all a front man."
The entire situation has seemingly lit a fire under Evans, who is more motivated than ever these days.
"Jon's the champion right now, but he's not better than Rashad," Van Arsdale said.
And as Evans continues to call it like he sees it in regards to Jones, he'll continue to get booed by a majority of UFC fans.
"I'm held to a standard that not a lot of people are held to," Evans said. "I'm a human being, too. I have emotions and everything else like that, so if I feel a certain way about something, I'll say something about it. I'm a person, too. I'm more than just someone who comes on the screen and fights for you guys every once in a while. I'm not that type of character you see me as. That's not totally who I am. I'm more than just that, but people only see you as just that character."
To his friends, Evans hasn't changed one bit from when they met him, which makes them scratch their heads when it comes to figuring out why Evans is booed.
"He's the same guy," Cormier said. "Happy-go-lucky, fun. Confused sometimes as to why he gets booed all the time, but he's the same guy. Always joking around and he works hard. I could be friends with anyone that's willing to put in the work."
You can read the entire column at The Detroit News. I was very happy with how this one turned out!