Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
ATLANTA -- The Jackson family civil war is over for now. Longtime pupil Rashad Evans won't be heading back to Albuquerque anytime soon, but there are signs that healing between the two sides has already begun.
After ripping his former coach Greg Jackson in public for the decision to accept Jon Jones on his team -- a decision that ultimately led to Evans leaving the team -- Evans lost to Jon Jones at UFC 145. But among the first to console him for the defeat was Jackson.
The two shared a moment after the fight which was not caught on camera, with Jackson walking over and whispering something in his former champion's ear, and Evans' seemingly accepting the peace offering.
The third member of the messy situation, Jones, more publicly offered an olive branch to Evans both before and after the fight. Less than an hour after it finished, he said that he hopes to regain Evans' friendship after over a year as bitter enemies.
"I still have a lot of thinking to do with the whole situation, but one thing I do want to get out of this is to rekindle a respect level and some type of communication with Rashad," he said. "Hopefully we can do that in private and work on that in the future. I do have tons of respect for Rashad, and I know he does respect me to some degree. There's a lot of emotion between us that can lead to a friendship."
Evans didn't shut the door on it, saying he would need a while to let the whole situation sink in.
"I don't know," he said. "It takes some time for the lessons you learn in the situation to kick in. But like Jon was saying, you never know what happens in future. We were friends before, so you never know what could happen. We got some cool experiences we shared together. We'll see. We'll probably compete again one of these days, so we’ll keep it on a level where we can say 'What's up’ but beat the hell out of each other when we have to."
MMA doesn't necessarily need sentimental endings to rivalries, but it's nice to hear the bad blood may be a thing of the past.
Other UFC 145 thoughts…
- Jones often gets accused of arrogance, but he showed some candid vulnerability in the moments after the fight when he admitted that he had some actual fear about engaging Evans, which led to uncertainty about his approach to fight.
"I think i was a little intimidated at some points to just believe in my ability, speed and coordination. As a result, I didn't fight as clean as I would have liked to."
- Travis Browne is becoming quite a beast. The 6-foot-7, 255-pounder smashed Chad Griggs before submitting him. It was an impressive performance, even in a fight he was supposed to win. Browne has showed an ability to integrate his impressive athleticism to go with his big power, and he's going to be a tough out as he continues to ascend up the UFC's heavyweight ladder.
Maybe he'll get a chance to impress in the near future. UFC 146 has an empty slot for a heavyweight, and when asked if he'd be willing to fill it on short notice, he didn't hesitate.
"I'm ready," he said.
- With his back against the wall, Ben Rothwell delivered. After losing two of his last three, Rothwell probably had his UFC career on the line against Brendan Schaub. In fact, he might have had his entire career on the line, as he said he might have retired with a loss. Instead, he came into the fight in the best physical condition he's been in years, withstood an early barrage, and finished Schaub early.
"It was all or nothing," he said. "I said it before the fight, that my first three performance in UFC -- one of them being a win -- were all very disappointing. I knew that I had so much more to show. I'm just very thankful that Dana White and Joe Silva were patient with me. [Saturday], they got to see why they brought me to the UFC."
It may be hard to believe, but at 30 years old, Rothwell is only a year older than Schaub.
- UFC 146 was a youth movement. Aside from 24-year-old Jones winning, 22-year-old Rory MacDonald and 21-year old Michael McDonald smashed their way to impressive victories over Che Mills and Miguel Torres, respectively.
Rory is certainly a contender to watch at 170 while Michael could just be a win or so away from getting a bantamweight title shot.
- It appears Torres' run as one of the bantamweight division's best may have hit its end. He was violently knocked out, and couldn't walk out of the octagon on his own, requiring his cornermen to walk back to the locker room. The 31-year-old is just 3-3 in his last six fights, and he's been KO'd twice. It would be a long climb back to the top for him.
- UFC 145's feel-good story has to go to Eddie Yagin. The 33-year-old has been fairly unheralded throughout his career, but earned the biggest win of his life in a split-decision over former featherweight top contender Hominick. Yagin dropped Hominick twice during the fight, nearly finishing him before settling for a decision. He may be nowhere near the top 10, but he certainly created a moment he could savor no matter what his future holds.
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