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« | Home | »

UFC is now getting the soap opera they always wanted to see

By Zach Arnold | March 21, 2011

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I posted a video earlier of Scott Coker’s interview with HDNet and discussed some of the interesting messages that one could take away from watching it. Well, there were two other video interviews from this past weekend at UFC 128 that are also worth your while and paint another awkward, albeit higher-profile situation and that’s the triangle between Greg Jackson, UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones, and #1 contender Rashad Evans. Jones got a title shot against Shogun after Evans injured his knee during training at Jackson’s camp in New Mexico.

There’s the set-up for this short, but intriguing interview that Evans did after watching Jones dismantle Shogun at UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey:

(Meeting Jon Jones in the cage after he won the Light Heavyweight title.)

ARIEL HELWANI: “What was that experience like for you?”

RASHAD EVANS: “Uh, you know, I thought about it, it was going to happen before it even happened, so it’s whatever.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Was it awkward considering your friendship with Jon?”

RASHAD EVANS: “Uh, this whole’s situation awkward, you know. It is what it is.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “You seem to be experiencing some mixed emotions right now.”

RASHAD EVANS: “Yeah, I’m happy for the dude, he went out there and he fought well, you know I’m happy for him that he looked phenomenal. But at the same time, he’s got that strap so now I got to go and get it.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Were you pulling for Shogun so that you wouldn’t be in this situation?”

RASHAD EVANS: “No, I knew I was going to fight him, no matter if he lost tonight or not. I was going to fight him.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “What did you think of his performance?”

RASHAD EVANS: “Phenomenal, great performance.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Did you expect him to dominate the fight that easily?”

RASHAD EVANS: “Yes I did. From the minute they called that he was going to fight him, I knew that he was going to destroy him.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “And when you’re watching that are you thinking of how you will fight him now? Or you haven’t really…”

RASHAD EVANS: “I already know how to fight him, I train with him!”

ARIEL HELWANI: “Right. What do you think you’re going to do? Will you train with Jackson’s or stay at Grudge, do you know?”

RASHAD EVANS: “I’m done with Jackson’s.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “You’re done? How come?”

RASHAD EVANS: “I’m done.”

ARIEL HELWANI: “You feel as though they betrayed you?”

RASHAD EVANS: “I’m done. I’m done with Jackson’s.”

After those comments, there was this interview with Greg Jackson. He was asked about Jon Jones winning the Light Heavyweight title and the impending match between Jones and Evans.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for me because, you know, Rashad’s got to fight [Jon Jones] next and I love Rashad like a brother. I love Jon like a brother, so I’m extremely happy for Jon, you know, he showed what he can do. But, yeah, it’s bittersweet.”

He was even less thrilled when he saw Jones and Evans face off in the cage.

“I couldn’t even be in the cage, you know what I mean? I’m not going to corner anybody for that fight. The coaches will have to figure it out on their own, but I love Rashad and I love Jon and I hope after they fight we can be one big happy family again because, for me, it’s all about the love and I won’t have anything to do with the two of them fighting.”

And it got worse from there when Rashad’s comments about being finished with Jackson’s was relayed.

“Well, you know, I’m hoping that it’s just emotion talking and that won’t be the case because we love him to death and I love him to death.

“There’s a lot of things that are said that I hope aren’t meant.

“You know, again… I don’t, how can I say it? I’m a veteran of a lot of situations and so I’m not going to be like tearing my hair out or anything like that. I’m hoping that, like my heart and my optimism, every great fighter even though I’m not in there fighting you know I do put in a lot of hours, has to be an optimist at heart so I’m an optimist that it’s all going to work out.

“I mean, how would you feel if your brother was going to fight your brother, you know what I mean? If everybody was like, ‘who’s going to win that fight?!?! Your one brother or your other brother?’ You’d be like, I don’t really want to see them fight, so that’s just me, though, you know. The UFC wants what it wants and the fans want what they want and, you know, I’m happily being an unimportant person, so that’s just my opinion.

“Yeah, I can’t win that one, so I’m not going to play.

“I’ll need all the bright side that I can get.”

UFC is more than happy to pour gasoline on this fire.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 41 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

41 Responses to “UFC is now getting the soap opera they always wanted to see”

  1. Armlock says:

    I can see why Rashad would feel hurt and betrayed, but I was sick and tired of this I won’t fight team mates nonsense.
    Dana was right when he said Rashad has to many friends, he’d have to move up to SHW to not fight someone that he trained with at Jackson’s.

    • manapua says:

      Rashad had no problems with coming into Jackson’s when he already had Jardine there at his weight. Any big training camp is going to have a lot of good fighters at multiple weights and eventually someone is going to come along who is better than you. Rashad is acting like a veteran in some other sport who wants to cling to their spot even though there are better, younger players on the squad.

      • Oh Yeah says:

        There’s a difference since Jardine and Evans were closer than Evans and Jones. But, push never came to shove since Jardine was never seriously in contention.

        My general take is that Evans/Jardine bought into the “Jackson Code” and have primarily been the ones taking heat for it over all of these years.

        It’s something that Jackson pushed as mandatory within his camp for years (for good reason). But when Jon Jones doesn’t fall in line, Jackson is willing to turn a blind eye instead of laying down the law.

        It’s a situation out of a movie:
        - a closely knit group takes in an outsider
        - one of them has a bad feeling about this person (incompetence/hidden agenda/competition for female)
        - newcomer thrives
        - original suspicion is confirmed, but only after it’s too late to do anything about

  2. Hardano Cue says:

    No matter how you look at it this is not a good situation. If you have never trained with a team before or been at a gym, it is hard to see how this would be a problem.
    The people you train with are more than just training partners. They are friends and often times they know more about you then most people ever will. This is a UFC dream – to them it is cut and dry – make money at any cost. And who can blame them?

    • Bryan says:

      Someone here gets it. I love how people say “Why shouldn’t teammates fight?” when they have most likely never felt the camaraderie or family atmosphere that these high level teams have.

      • Tom says:

        Respectfully disagree – you’re leaving out an important part: they’re professional fighters.

        Most if not all fighters claim they want “to be the best” or make a “run at the title”, if so then they need to drop the ‘wont fight teammates’mentality; bearing in mind this isn’t a ‘team’ sport.

        If you’re intention is to acquire the UFC’s title then I don’t think you should be dictating to the UFC who you will and wont fight. Otherwise could you blame the UFC for passing you over for title shots?

        • Bryan says:

          Yes it is not a “team sport”, but all of the top fighters are supported by a team. As has been demonstrated numerous times, fighters who train on their own and build camps around them and their wishes do not work out. You need to be surrounded by other fellow fighters who will push you when you don’t feel like being pushed. Because of this and as a result of the time you all spend together, friendships are forged and their are bonds formed that the casual fan will not understand and can’t experience until they actually go through it.

  3. Jamie Penick says:

    Zach, if you haven’t read the Rashad interview with Duane Finley yet, you need to. He lets loose on Jackson and Jones and how it all came about:

    http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/3/21/2062720/rashad-evans-disrespected-by-jon-jones-disappointed-in-greg-jackson

  4. David M says:

    Once JJ starts getting more comfortable talking trash, the hype for this fight is going to be incredible. This fight is going to have even more heat than Rashad v Rampage did.

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    I assume this fight will happen around July 4th.

    For people saying the UFC lacked star power…. Jones, Silva, & GSP are stars. Faber is one fight away from being their 4th champion star. And Velasquez ain’t so bad.

    • Michaelthebox says:

      Faber ain’t beating Cruz. They’re really blowing it by not pushing Cruz–he’s young and has crushed several elite BWs in a row, he could be a future star if he continues to develop as a fighter (and develops finishing power).

      I think GSP is getting close to badly damaging his star power. The noise about him being boring/fighting safe is getting louder each fight. If he beats Shields in a safe decision and refuses to move up to fight Anderson, I expect his popularity to plummet.

      • Michael Rome says:

        You are just projecting. 55,000 fans say otherwise. He is a bigger draw every show. There’s no evidence at all his star power is being damaged. Everything points the opposite direction.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Yeah let’s just ignore it having anything to do with being the UFC’s first show in the newly legalized Ontario market, only the organization’s strongest fanbase that has been clamoring to have an event for years, and being within traveling distance of a number of cities in the US and Montreal (GSP’s hometown and another white hot UFC market).

          Not saying there’s any proof of his draw waning, but way to critically analyze that one chief.

        • Michaelthebox says:

          What The Gaijin said. His fight against Koscheck underperformed, given that it was against a fighter as hateable as Koscheck and was supported by a season of TUF.

          Perhaps I am projecting, but you can’t say you haven’t seen the grumblings get worse after every show.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Rome is right. It takes years for a winning star to lose people’s interest even if he is boring. There are no signs of GSP being less popular unless you read too many MMA websites…. Which are hardly a good indicator.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I’m not saying GSP is losing his draw, all I am pointing out is that the show in Toronto is an outlier/aberration that you can’t point to as proof of anything.

          Putting any card with a championship fight in Toronto was going to sell 55,000 tickets. Doesn’t take a genius to put together all the factors that tell us the real reason why 55,000 tickets are being sold and the power of GSP’s draw is about the 4th or 5th reason down the list.

        • Michaelthebox says:

          Reading MMA websites is only a poor indicator if the topic at hand is something that online fans and bloggers receive more exposure to and/or are fundamentally more interested in than casual fans. IE, why Fedor was never nearly as important as his fans claimed: most people were just never exposed to him.

          However, there is very little difference in the predilection towards liking/disliking GSP between online fanboys and casual fans. And saying that it takes years for a winning star to lose people’s interest even if he’s boring. . . any evidence of this?

          I’m certainly not saying that his popularity would vanish overnight, but I think it would begin a downward trend.

          Not that I hope this happens; I’d much prefer him crush Shields then move up and crush Silva.

  6. Michael Rome says:

    Anyone who deluded themselves into believing fighters would unionize can take a look at what happened here. It took virtually no effort to crush the closest thing to a union stance in MMA.

    • Steve4192 says:

      Yep.

      MMA fighters all seem to be stuck in the now. They have no long-term vision and are only concerned with maximizing their income in the immediate future. Even the guys who have talked a good game about organizing (Tito, Randy) completely abandon the idea once Zuffa puts a few more dollars in their pocket.

    • klown says:

      Michael,

      How is this the closest thing to a union stance? This is a training camp situation, it doesn’t have anything to do with unionization. Unionizing is not about refusing to fight one another, it’s about bargaining collectively and setting some standards in the industry.

  7. 45 Huddle says:

    I’ve always been in favor of teammates fighting. But to watch the way this Jones/Evans fiasco has ripped apart team Jackson…. It makes me think one of 2 things….

    1) This is a much harder thing to do then we as fans realize.

    2) This is an isolated incident if a team with issues already and this just pushed all of their dirty laundry front and center.

    Right now I’m thinking it’s much more #2, buy if we see more #1’s in the future this might be an issue.

    I’m not sleeping on Evans. He has enough speed to cause Jones issues. Jones is a little lumbering because of his size.

  8. Safari_Punch says:

    Funny how my anti-spam word is “worked.”

    Seems like y’all bought into this Rashad/Jackson stuff hook, line and sinker.

    Marks.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      You do realize Rashad Evans came from an amateur not pro wrestling background, right? The MMA world doesn’t fit into the idea of good vs. Bad and “marks”.

    • Oh Yeah says:

      Funny how my anti-spam word is “triangle”.

      Like Evans/Jackson/Jones, OMG!

      Now all we need is some steroid talk.

  9. Oh Yeah says:

    Post on BE now about the UFC manipulating Jones/Evans.
    http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2011/3/22/2065504/did-the-ufc-manipulate-jones-vs-evans-to-divide-team-jackson

    Funnily enough, the only honest person out of them all has been Dana. Of course, his situation is also the simplest.

    Jones and Evans’ primary goals are be champion and get paid.
    Jackson’s primary goal is build his legacy.

    They’ve resisted acknowledging these truths for so long, Jackson is still trying to pretend like he isn’t capable of ruffling any feathers. This is all bubbling over quite interestingly.

  10. Jason says:

    It’s a business, treat it as such. Besides, there wouldn’t be any kind of friendship getting in my way to prove that I am the best in the world at what I do.

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    Zach,

    Have you seen any decrease in Internet traffic to this site since the UFC purchased SF?

    I always thought once the UFC had no competitors that some of the Internet traffic would slow down.

    Personally, I have found myself caring much less about MMA News lately. My interest in the sports aspect hasn’t twindled .01%. Buy my interest in a lot of this news now gives me a big “whatever” feeling most of the time now. Seems like a lot of these news sites are manufacturing issues and drama far more now since there really isn’t half as much news to actually report. No discussions about who can beat who. No talks about SF increasing market share. Even talk about Japan is basically done. There are only so many legit news stories from one organization that cone out in a given week….

    I guess I just find it interesting how the news has changed so much for the sport since even December of 2010.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Only a little — a lot of mainstream interest in Rashad vs. Bones and the Jackson triangle. The key is to pull in more casual fans to the site and go from there.

  12. manapua says:

    “push never came to shove since Jardine was never seriously in contention.”

    So it’s ok as long as the other fighters at Jackson’s are worse than Rashad? He would never get any better that way.

    “one of them has a bad feeling about this person”

    Because he knew that person was more talented than him. Jackson should not to hold back Jon Jones because he is more talented than Rashad.

  13. Robthom says:

    I hope none of the drooling fanboy tards and bloggers who have been calling for this have ever passed ass about fighter unions, because the reason that Dana wanted this so bad and that he’s cheesing so hard now is because he just busted the closest thing to a unified front among fighters who were significant enough to be taken seriously.

    Just so jerkoffs can watch a soap opera.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      So jerkoffs can watch #1 in the world versus #3 in the world…..

    • edub says:

      I think you’re reaching a little bit on that comparison. They were a unified front against fighting eachother. Just because unified sounds like union doesn’t mean that they were a “union” or anything like it. Fighters in a UFC union or UFCCA (Ultimate fighting championship combatants association) if you will, would be fighting each other anyway.

      • klown says:

        Thank you edub.

        There seems to be a lot of confusion about what it means to be a union. It has nothing to do with training partners refusing to fight!

      • Robthom says:

        What makes you think that i dont know what a union is?

        Before you can organize a union you have to allign behind the concept and then you need guys with enough clout to join in to give it some power.

        And you have to STICK TO IT.

        Dana just squashed that at jacksons.
        Who have been the most vocal and significant of his employees to resist him.

        “Fighters in a UFC union-would be fighting each other anyway.”

        Wrong.

        They would if they AGREED to.

        Thats what a union is exactly for, so that an employer cant overstep their authority and demand or threaten an employee to take on unnesisary or unagreed upon risks or tasks to keep their job.

        If Dana wants to force anybody to fight anybody then I guess he better start writing it into his contracts.

        I wonder why he hasn’t already?

        Tell me wether thats even legal?

        • edub says:

          -If all the UFC’s fighters were in a Union they would be fighting each other, or there would be no fights. So yes people a part of a Union would be fighting each other.

          -AKA has been just a vocal as Jackson’s, and they appear to be sticking to it. That still has nothing to do with a fighter’s Union where collective bargaining is the main objective, not choosing who you fight.

          -Dana didn’t squash anything. Jon Jones and Rashad did when they let small unimportant statements in the media drive them in between a rock and a hard place. They had to take the fight then so neither would look like they were backing down.

        • Robthom says:

          “or there would be no fights. So yes people a part of a Union would be fighting each other.”

          Oh come on man.
          You understood what I said.

          I SAID that they would fight each other if they agreed to but wouldn’t be forced to fight someone uit of fear of repercussions.

          GOSH!

          And yes, I agree that AKA will be next on the hitlist now that jacksons is put down.

          But jacksons was the bigger victory, more champs and contenders over there.
          And the breaking up of jacksons has got to be a hell of a warning for any more lip out of AKA.

        • Robthom says:

          “…they let small unimportant statements in the media drive them in between a rock and a hard place…”

          Oh, I agree.
          They let themselves down.

          But guess who was exacerbating and fueling these small unimportant statements in the media.

          Statements like the Helwani interview were Jones states (I paraphrase) “if Dana wants me to fight Rashad I’ll fight him because I dont want to lose my job”.

  14. David M says:

    in re: GSP, my experience is that casual fans know who he is and know he is the best, whereas the hardcore fans also recognize he is the best in his division but also are more critical of his performances. Georges doesn’t have the visceral appetite for violence that guys like JJ, BJ Penn, Wanderlei, Cain, and Brock have. GSP looks like he is very content to win dominant decisions in which he takes as little damage as possible, and frankly, who can blame him? He has a brand to protect, an image to protect, and if the fans keep paying to watch him fight, why would he care what some fanboys say about him?

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