Champ, former titleholder discuss their grudge match
By this time three weeks from now, we'll know: Did Jon Jones tear through yet another opponent in defense of his title on his way to potentially legendary status, or did Rashad Evans buck the long odds against him to beat his former training partner?
Jones puts his light heavyweight title on the line for third time in seven months when he faces Evans in the April 21 main event of UFC 145 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The feud between the two former friends has become one of the most dynamic in mixed martial arts history – and for all we know, it could just be getting started.
It's one of the most highly anticipated fights in recent memory. So to whet your appetite for the big fight, let's take a look at what Jones and Evans have been saying in the weeks leading up to their moment of truth.
“My title defense at UFC 145 will be the biggest fight the UFC has seen in years. Sports fans from around the world will want to tune in for this pay-per-view. They know it will be an all-out war."
“My opponent and I have a storied history that has been well-documented. He thinks he knows everything I bring to the table, but a lot has changed since he left (Greg Jackson's) gym a year ago. I'm a much different fighter than the one he trained with. I hope he is ready to see and feel that difference."
“It is one of my goals to be considered among the greats in UFC history. I feel it is my time and my destiny to be the light heavyweight champion in the UFC. Winning this fight, and defeating a fourth former champion in a row, would keep me on pace to achieving that goal."
“I have been able to prove many of my doubters wrong over the course of the last 12 months. Some said I couldn't submit a legend, and I did that. Some said I couldn't take a punch, and I did that. Now some are saying that I will have trouble against someone who knows me so well. They are wrong. Wait until they see what I do on April 21.”
“I know I will beat Jon Jones. He can talk about improvements he’s made, but there are still some things in his game he can never change. He’s a long, rangy fighter, and I’m going to get inside, unleash my stuff, take him down and ground and pound him. I’m at a level in my career where I can take down and ground and pound anyone."
“I know all about him, all about his coaches and all about his camp. I could probably tell you what he’s doing in the gym right now. He’s in the exact same environment doing the exact same things with the exact same people. But I’m in a different environment. I knew I had to learn, had to mix things up and I had to change. Jon has no idea what I will do on the night."
“I’ve got the advantage mentally, too. He’s not ‘Jon Jones, unbeatable champion’ to me. I know the real Jon, the nervous kid who would ask me to tell him how to dress, how to talk and how to fight. I know how he reacts when things don’t go his way, how he can’t handle it mentally. And I’ve been through these types of pressure fights. I’ve been in these situations where emotions are involved with my fights with guys like (Michael) Bisping and Rampage (Jackson). Jon has never been in this type of situation and he’s never faced a fighter like me. I know I will get my title back at UFC 145.”