Former friends, training partners, ‘brothers’ settle score next week
The UFC finally returns Saturday with a card in Stockholm, Sweden. But before we launch into full-on Gustafsson-Silva mode, let’s not forget – yeah, like that’s possible – there’s a rather large grudge match next week in Atlanta.
Jon Jones and Rashad Evans finally get to stop the talk and let fighting solve everything when they meet in the main event of UFC 145 for the light heavyweight title. The back story of their friendship turned sour is one of the most intriguing in MMA history. And if you don’t know the story by heart, consider this your refresher course.
Below is the UFC’s official timeline of events in the already legendary Jon Jones-Rashad Evans feud:
Nov. 5, 2005: An undersized Rashad Evans wins the Season 2 heavyweight tournament on “The Ultimate Fighter.” He then drops to light heavyweight and joins Greg Jackson‘s gym in Albuquerque, N.M.
Aug. 9, 2008: 21-year-old Jon Jones makes his UFC debut with a unanimous decision victory over Andre Gusmao after only eight months of training.
Sept. 6, 2008: Evans earns a UFC title shot with a one-punch knockout of UFC legend and future Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell.
Dec. 27, 2008: Evans knocks out Forrest Griffin in the third round at UFC 92 to win the UFC light heavyweight title.
Jan. 31, 2009: Jones beats contender Stephan Bonnar on points at UFC 94 and becomes the talk of MMA with his spinning elbows and suplexes.
May 23, 2009: Evans loses his UFC title to Lyoto Machida in a second-round knockout defeat, the lone loss of his career.
Aug. 22, 2009: After promising not to fight any of his new teammates in the Octagon, Jones joins Jackson’s gym. According to Evans, Jackson specifically asked for his permission to allow the obviously talented Jones to join the team. Over the next year, both Evans and Jones would continually repeat the mantra they will never fight the other.
Sept. 30, 2009: Evans predicts new teammate Jones will be champion someday. Pair come to regard each other as brothers.
May 29, 2010: Evans wins grudge match against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and becomes the No. 1 contender to champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
June 10, 2010: Rua suffers serious knee injury. Rather than take interim bout, Evans decides to wait for his title shot. The fight is eventually set for March 2011.
Feb. 4, 2011: News breaks that Evans is injured and will be unable to challenge the fully-healed Shogun for the light heavyweight belt.
Feb. 5, 2011: Jones runs through fellow prospect and contender Ryan Bader with surprising ease and – with Evans’ blessing – is offered the title fight against Rua.
Feb. 6, 2011: Evans predicts Jones will “destroy” Rua in the first round of their light heavyweight title fight.
Feb. 10, 2011: Asked repeatedly, Evans claims he will switch divisions rather than face Jones should his “brother” win.
March 3, 2011: During the broadcast of UFC Live: Sanchez vs. Kampmann, Jones says: “I respect (UFC president) Dana White a lot, and if (me fighting Rashad is) what he absolutely wanted to happen, then I guess that’s what would have to happen.”
March 4, 2011: Asked to respond on “MMA Live,” a visibly upset Evans says: “I’m no punk. If Jon wins the (title), I’ve got to sit down with the team and decide what to do.”
March 19, 2011: Jones becomes the youngest UFC champion in history, destroying Rua before going nose-to-nose with Evans in the Octagon.
March 19, 2011: Speaking with MMA Fighting, Evans stuns the MMA world, announcing he has left the Jackson camp. “I’m done with Jackson’s. And I know how to fight Jon. I trained with him for a long time.”
March 22, 2011: Evans relocates his training camp to Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla., forming the soon-to-be feared “Blackzilians” camp.
April 25, 2011: It is announced that Jones has torn a ligament in his right hand, forcing him to withdraw from a proposed title defense against Evans.
April 27, 2011: This time, Evans does not want to wait for the champion and accepts a fight with replacement Phil Davis.
May 12, 2011: Evans and Jones nearly come to blows at Surrender, a Las Vegas nightclub, and they are separated by Georges St-Pierre.
May 15, 2011: Evans questions the legitimacy of Jones’ hand injury. “Jon doesn’t need surgery,” he says. “No doctor will operate on him. They say he doesn’t need it.”
July 13, 2011: Another bitter pill for “Suga,” as Davis pulls out of his fight with Evans with a knee injury.
Aug. 6, 2011: Eager to fight somebody – anybody – Evans eventually goes on to defeat Tito Ortiz inside two rounds, looking better than ever.
Sept. 24, 2011: Jones submits Rampage in the fourth round of his first UFC title defense.
Oct. 6, 2011: Evans is forced to pull out of yet another date with Jones, due to a dislocated thumb injury picked up in his win over Ortiz.
Dec. 10, 2011: Jones caps off an incredible 2011 with a second successful title defense, this time against former champion Machida.
Jan. 28, 2012: Evans easily defeats the previously unbeaten Davis over five rounds in an eliminator bout to determine the next UFC title challenger.
Jan. 30, 2012: News emerges Evans picks up an injury – again – against Davis and there is fear the already twice-postponed fight may once again be off.
Feb. 6, 2012: Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans – perhaps the biggest 205-pound title fight since Liddell vs. Ortiz II – is on. The fight is set for Atlanta in April.
Feb. 16, 2012: Cutting barbs are exchanged by the former friends at the official UFC 145 press conference in Atlanta. Jones accuses Evans of jealousy while “Suga” says “Bones” is “all fake.”
Feb. 18, 2012: After months of saying he will not coach against his former star pupil, Jackson confirms that he will corner Jones against Evans.
April 21, 2012: Jon Jones and Rashad Evans will finally meet to settle their feud, once and for all, at UFC 145 in Atlanta.