Jon Jones and Rashad Evans engaged in one of MMA most epic out of cage battles, following their 'divorce' and leading up to their fight at UFC 145 in which Evans, although losing, gave Jones his toughest in cage test to date.
When Jones declined a last moment fight with Chael Sonnnen, causing the collapse of UFC 151, the entire sport piled on Jones, leaving him widely hailed as "the most hated man in MMA." In a testament to his character, rather than pile on, in an interview with Pro MMA Radio, Evans offered an insighful, nuanced appraisal of his former teammate.
"It's a two part question for me," said Evans. "For one, you want to always keep it right for the fighters. It's great for the fighters to have the right to choose a fight. That is one of the liberties we do have, the option to say yes or no to a fight.
"But then on the other hand, you have a tremendous responsibility as the champion. You are the champion of the UFC. Not only that, you became champion of the UFC through circumstances like this. You had the opportunity to fight for someone that was injured. He stepped into a fight, after I got hurt, so he stepped in for me to fight Shogun. So, he was rewarded by the very process of somebody stepping in to take a fight. So, he owed it to the UFC to take the fight. Not only that, he owed it to all the other fighters on this card who are going to be missing paydays because of that.
"And lets not talk about how the UFC has done so much to make him the face of the UFC. They sponsored him. Everything he's gotten is because of the UFC, the whole Nike endorsement and everything else like that, has all been because of the UFC. When he got in trouble a few months back, it was the UFC who stood behind him and kind of made it go away relatively quickly.
"So, for him to turn his back on the UFC is very hard to believe, for one, but it's just disappointing. I'm sure one day, when he has the time to understand the ramifications of his decision, he's is gonna think, 'Wow. What did I really do?'"
"For me, it's more of a sadness than anything. What it comes down to at the end of the day, despite the fact that me and Jon had our situations and we did part ways the way we did and we fought and I lost, I don't want to wish bad on him. I never want to wish bad on anybody like that because these are things in life that affects more than Jon Jones. It affects his family, it affects everyone that is close to him. So, to wish bad on him is to wish bad on a lot of other people that I have no problems with.
"Another thing is, dimming his light doesn't make my light any brighter. So for me, I just feel bad that it has come to light, exactly what I was saying and I don't want to be like, 'Ah man, I told you so, I told you so.' I would have been happy if he made me look like a liar. For me, it's about the organization and the sport and he is an ambassador for the sport, so, when he does things like this, it affects everybody involved. If he is going to be champion, then he has to take responsibility pretty serious and know and that he is representing more than just himself with the choices that he makes."
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