UFC Hall of Famer Rashad Evans hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2018. Despite not competing since then, he’s stayed close to the action—working the desk for the UFC’s ESPN broadcasts. Evans also recently announced that he would return to competition, though not in MMA. The former UFC light heavyweight champ said he wants to try boxing and that he’s the ideal next opponent for Logan Paul.
Recently Evans spoke to TMZ. But he didn’t speak about the famous YouTuber. Instead he chatted about his former training partner turned foe—Jon Jones—who he fought for the UFC title at UFC 145 in 2012.
Back then Evans lost by unanimous decision. In the years that followed the bitterness between Evans and Jones seemed to ebb away. In a 2016 interview with Bloody Elbow Evans remarked that Jones was more than capable of turning his life around after a number of high profile incidents. That same year ‘Bones’ said that any beef between him and ‘Suga’ was officially squashed.
Evans appears to still have a high opinion of Jones. With TMZ he talked up his former opponent’s prospects in the UFC heavyweight division.
“Jon moving up, it’s going to be a continuation of the legacy of Jon Jones,” he said (ht MMA Junkie). “Jon Jones is a phenomenal athlete. He’s a phenomenal fighter and his IQ inside the octagon, it can’t be surpassed by anybody. So I expect him to carry that to the heavyweight division
“The things that I think may give him some problems is the fact that these guys are big and they do hit harder. But for the most part, this is a great Jon Jones. Jon Jones can make an adjustment to anything.”
Evans also discussed a potential fight between Jones and UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, a bout that everyone except the UFC seemingly wants to see.
“The fight with Francis, that is one that is a very intriguing fight,” said Evans. “Because he’s going against a guy that takes away some of the advantages that he’s been able to enjoy for so long – being able to have a long reach, being able to be the stronger fighter and all those different aspects that he’s been able to bring to the table. So it’s going to be interesting to see if he’s going to be able to bring that to the heavyweight division. But at the same time, it’s hard to say that he won’t because this is Jon Jones.”
When it comes to picking a winner between Jones and ‘The Predator’, Evans said he was torn.
“I went back and forth a few times just because the fact that Ngannou is growing at an exponential rate. His mindset has been absolutely amazing when it comes to just growing and rounding out the part of his game that wasn’t so good before, which is the grappling, and even understanding how to control his power and not trying to throw a hard punch every single time he lets his hands go. This Francis has grown a lot, so it’s still so hard to say. And here’s another thing: He wants to fight Jon Jones. He’s not hoping it doesn’t happen – he wants to fight Jon Jones. He’s seeking that fight out, so that’s a man who’s a very confident man.”
Whether Jones and Ngannou will fight remains a mystery. The UFC have officially balked at ponying up enough cash for either fighter to feel like the contest is worth their time. Instead the promotion has booked an interim UFC heavyweight title bout between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis.