“Bones said what?”
Rashad Evans has been maintaining for some time now that he absolutely would not fight his “close friend” Jon Jones, despite pretty much everyone else in the known universe encouraging him otherwise, including his employer and at least one of his trainers. Not that fans are going out of their minds with desire to see that fight, but when one top contender says he won’t fight another, it naturally raises objections.
Even after getting not-so-subtly punished twice in a row by Dana White, Evans still didn’t budge. When he tweaked his knee only six weeks out from his planned fight with Shogun, Dana didn’t hesitate to replace him with Jon Jones rather than push the fight back. Make no mistake, this was Rashad’s punishment for willfully riding the bench since last May. To be fair, Dana’s hand was kinda forced considering UFC 128 has no other marquee matches that could have taken over as the main event, but still… something tells me he shed no tears for Rashad’s misfortune.
Then Rashad immediately declared that he wouldn’t challenge Jones if Jones beat Shogun, and would rather consider changing weight classes. So when the chance came for an obvious #1 contender rematch with Rampage, the UFC snubbed him and again gave the opportunity to someone else. So now he sits on the bench again, except this time it wasn’t his choice, and his immediate future is a question mark.
Through all this, I couldn’t help but notice that I wasn’t really hearing about Jon Jones reciprocating this pact, not to mention how he didn’t hesitate to step over Rashad’s injured body and snatch up his title shot. If like me, you thought this might be a rather one-sided deal, there’s now little doubt about the extent of his loyalty.
In a move that probably suprised no one except Rashad Evans, Jones recently said in an interview with Ariel Halwani (starting at 6:45) that he will fight Rashad if Dana forces him, though to be fair, he doesn’t sound excited about it either. At long last, this prompted Rashad to adopt a more pragmatic attitude when asked about it on MMA Live. Dig it:
So now the question is: what does the UFC do with Rashad, now that he’s finally reached the acceptance stage? Do they just give him the next shot at the winner of Shogun vs Jones? Somehow I doubt Dana will go for that, and I don’t blame him. By all rights, Rashad now needs another win first, even if just as a tune-up. But against who? The perfect chance for the title eliminator rematch with Rampage has now passed. The only relevant 205ers that he hasn’t already fought (besides Jones) are Little Nog, Bader, and Franklin, but Nog already has a date with Tito and the other two are coming off losses. In the rematch category, Machida is on a 2-fight skid and already booked for Couture next month, and Thiago Silva will probably end up serving a suspension. So we’re basically left with a rematch with Forrest Griffin as the best option. With Fo-Griff coming off decision wins over Franklin and Tito, I guess he’d deserve a shot if he wins that fight too. Or at least as much if not more than Rampage would for beating Hamill and Machida.