Last February, I flew to Albuquerque, N.M., to interview then-No. 1 contender Jon Jones at Jackson-Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts for the UFC on Versus 3 pre-fight show, which would air on March 3.
Jones was days removed from his win over Ryan Bader at UFC 126 and was getting ready to fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 128 for the UFC light heavyweight title. As you may recall, Jones got the title shot after his then-friend and training partner Rashad Evans had to pull out of the fight due to a knee injury.
At the time of the interview, which you can watch here, Jones and Evans were still friends, but it seemed more and more likely that they would someday have to fight each other. I asked Jones (8:50 mark) what he planned on doing if UFC president Dana White asked him to fight Evans.
"It's Dana's world when you're a UFC fighter and we live in it," Jones said. "So, I respect Dana a lot, and if that's what he absolutely wanted to happen, I guess that's what would have to happen. Me or Rashad would not want to get fired over the situation. It would just be majorly awkward for us. Rashad and I have a lot in common: we're both young, African-American men with families. We both like to sing, have fun. We're both elite MMA fighters. We have a lot in common, and we both really clicked really well. There's just so many other great fighters in the world that we could compete against. And you know, we're not animals. We're friends, we're human beings. I would hate to have to fight my own teammate. I would never want to."
So, why am I bringing this up now? Well, ever since the Jones-Evans fight became a reality, Evans has pointed to this response as the moment everything changed. In fact, the latest UFC 145 preview video, which can be seen below, credits this moment as the beginning of the end of their friendship.
Now, I'm not trying to rehash a year-old interview. I'm just a little surprised that this is the moment that created the rift heard around the MMA world.
So I'll turn to you, our loyal readers. Do you think Jones' answer was really that disrespectful? Should he have been a little more emphatic in expressing his desire to never fight Evans, or was he only being a good company man weeks before his first title shot? Was Jones being a bad friend or is Evans being too sensitive?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.