–Kenny Rice

As former UFC Light Heavyweight champ Rashad Evans prepares for unbeaten Phil Davis in UFC 133, he hears the inevitable comparisons between his opponent and the man not solely responsible but the major factor in his breaking away from Greg Jackson’s gym in February.

“Davis reminds me of Jon Jones in that they are both very athletic, as much as good fighters they are very good athletes and bring a different feel to a fight,” Evans acknowledges.

It was the new UFC Light Heavyweight champ Jones that ultimately sent Evans from Jackson’s in New Mexico to current training camp in Florida. It was about the symmetry that concerned Evans early on and he expressed that to Jackson, two men going after the same belt was like an old west showdown, someone had to leave town.

“A team has to be evenly stacked within weight classes. It comes down to two guys who become good and that bridge has to be crossed, they will have to fight each other. Greg knew that. I had just lost a title (to Lyoto Machida in ’09) when Jones came in (to camp). Greg told me he was still miles and years from having to face me. But I know how the UFC works and they wanted Jones to move up quickly get his shot. Greg had to know that as well. Keith (Jardine) didn’t want him either, but obviously it didn’t matter,” Evans explains.

That Jardine after a loss to Matt Hamill in the UFC last year had gone in another direction, ultimately fighting Gegard Mousasi to a draw in April on the Strikeforce card, made it in Evans’ mind understandable for those two light heavyweights to train together, that and being of the same mind set was more important than the same weight class.

“Keith and I never were keeping score (when training) we were always trying to help the other get ready for the next fight, it was a true teammate effort.We always approached it like friends and professionals. It wasn’t that way when Jones came in, sparring felt like competition, it wasn’t about training it was about who is the best and that’s not the way to approach a camp.”

Recently on Inside MMA, Evans said as much when he explained his verbal confrontation with Jones in a Las Vegas nightclub. He said Jones wanted to remind him that he had gotten the best of Evans during their sparring sessions.

“He doesn’t get the difference of training and really going at it. But he will eventually, right now my focus is on Davis, another step toward getting the belt back.”

He doesn’t keep in touch with Jackson, “I had egg on my face when I heard him say TV so happy Jones was getting his title shot.” Evans says matter of fact,  “Greg is spread so thin, he wasn’t there as often (at camp) he was all over the place cornering guys and he wanted to coach everybody which led to him neglecting guys who helped get him established.”

Since the Machida loss, Evans has recorded back to back unanimous decision victories over Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson, perhaps a reminder to Jackson and Jones, a not so fast new guy this isn’t my first rodeo.

Evans insists he will explain the departure but will not dwell on it, he’s moved on and now hopes to move back up the UFC divisional ladder for a chance to be a champion again, to prove he made the right if not difficult decision to move on.

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