There was much hype surrounding the light-heavyweight title showdown between challenger Rashad Evans and champion Jon Jones April 21. Though there was bad blood from personal history between the fighters and a great promotional build up leading to the contest, the fight failed to live up to the expectations.
For the Ultimate Fighting Championship fans that have followed the Jones-Evans saga, this moment was supposed to be what they had been waiting for. When two fighters have real animosity toward each other it usually makes for an exciting fight. With the Jones-Evans fight it was clear that the initial hostility these two men had for one another did not carry over far enough to make it to this fight.
The two men used to be teammates who trained at Mixed Martial Arts coach Greg Jackson’s gym in New Mexico together. They always said they would never fight each other if it came down to it. Since both men fight in the same weight division, it was impossible to think that they would never cross paths. Both are simply too talented.
Evans endured setbacks due to injuries, which allowed Jones the opportunity at the title. Jones took full advantage and won the light-heavyweight title from Mauricio Rua. With Jones as champ, it put Evans in an awkward spot during training.
Jackson’s loyalty had to stay with his champion Jones, which led Evans to break away and form a training camp of his own.
That particular moment in time was the best moment to try and get the fight scheduled.
Unfortunately for the UFC, they waited more than a year after that point to make the fight happen. Both men also faced two other opponents before they finally met each other.
It’s hard for someone to maintain the same level of disgust for someone after a year has passed. Not to mention the fact that both men had already blown off steam against two other opponents.
The focus that they both put on their other fights took away from their eventual showdown.
Both men fought a very careful fight. Neither wanted to make a big mistake and it resulted in a non-eventful five-round fight that came down to the judges’ decision.
Had both men fought four months after Evans left Jackson’s camp, the fight would have had much more action. With both fighters having beaten two opponents on their way to each other, they were able to earn back a certain level of respect from the other.
In the future the UFC should learn from this mistake and try to capitalize on an intense feud as soon as it begins. If they take too much time to make the fight happen, it will result in a less entertaining contest.
It’s hard to fault Jones or Evans for their strategies in this fight, but one would have to believe that things would’ve gone different if they had fought closer to the time that their friendship ended.