Coach Tells Evans He Should Be Willing to Fight Jones
Full radio interview inside.
Trevor Wittman has advised Rashad Evans to fight teammate Jon Jones if Jones wins the UFC light heavyweight title from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128.
Evans had been scheduled to challenge Rua at the March 19 event. When Evans sprained a ligament in his knee, however, Jones filled in as his replacement.
“Mentally, I know it’s a little rough for [Evans] to see one of the guys he made a pact with to not fight go out there and take his position,” said Wittman, who is the head coach at the Grudge Training Center, a Jackson’s MMA affiliate gym where Evans has trained. “… I had the conversation with Rashad that I felt Rashad should fight Jon Jones if he wins.”
Wittman does in fact think Jones will beat Rua. He believes the 23-year-old could become one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. However, Wittman doesn’t feel Jones should have moved into Evans’ spot.
“I feel Jon Jones could have been like, ‘Hey man, I’ll tell you what. I’m going to take another fight,’” Wittman said. “And let Rashad -- he’s not at the beginning of his career. He’s at the peak and the tail end of it. Let him go fight for it.”
Regardless, now that Jones could soon be the light heavyweight champion, Wittman sees no problem with the teammates fighting each other.
“It makes for a great fight,” he said. “I think Rashad’s got the speed to do it. I think it’s just one of those things [that] makes for great media. To see two guys go out there, you’re fighting to make a legacy. You’re going out there and fighting one of your training partners: I think it’s a great thing. I think it’s great for the sport. A lot of people think we’re just brutal guys that kick each other’s ass. If we’re not in that mindset of brutality, you should be able to fight your friends, especially if there’s a world title on the line.”
In Wittman’s view, it will hurt Evans if he isn’t willing to fight Jones.
“We’re in the gym. Do we pull our punches in the gym? Heck no. We’re in here and we’re fighting every day,” Wittman said. “I can understand if there’s nothing on the line, [then] heck no. But if Rashad -- this is my key point with it -- if Rashad steps back and … says, ‘I ain’t going to fight Jon Jones,’ he’s putting his family on the line. He’s putting his career on the line. Dana White already doesn’t like him. I don’t want to say Dana White doesn’t like him but doesn’t like the decisions he’s made, so he’s going to smear that all over the Internet. It’s going to be horrible for Rashad’s career.”
Wittman doesn’t think Evans should change weight classes if Jones becomes champ either. He pointed out that teammate Shane Carwin is one division up at heavyweight and teammate Nate Marquardt is one down at middleweight.
With that said, trainer Greg Jackson has praised Evans’ handling of the situation and recently described Evans and Jones as “really, really good friends” during a Sherdog Radio Network interview.
“I know Greg feels differently about it than I do,” Wittman said. “I love Greg to death. Everybody has their own ways on how they do things, and this is just my little thought on how it should work.”
The team mate fighting issue sure does divide the fans and the fighters/coaches. Good to hear what Trevor thinks.