ATLANTA -- Greg Jackson is, arguably, the greatest active coach in mixed martial arts and responsible for the development of more high-level fighters than any other person. Jackson is an engaging, humble sort who has been heaped with praise for his calm, cool approach.
Jackson has taken a lot of criticism for his handling of the situation with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former champion Rashad Evans. The men will fight on Saturday in the main event of UFC 145 at Philips Arena, a fight neither of them really wants.
Evans blames Jackson. He says he warned Jackson several years ago about bringing Jones into camp at Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, N.M. Evans was a team leader at the time and took on a role of mentoring Jones, even though he insists he was wary about the relationship because he felt they may have to fight one day.
Jackson insisted it would be all right, and it was, until it wasn't. That came when Jones replaced an injured Evans in a title match last year against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and then said he'd consider a fight against Evans if UFC president Dana White insisted.
Evans left Jackson's at that point and created his own team, The Blackzilians, in Florida. But as tensions heated, Jackson changed his long stance that he wouldn't corner either man and opted to work with Jones against Evans. That, of course, didn't sit well with Evans, who talked about it to the UFC's Jon Anik on Ultimate Insider.
That's the big thing about it. That's why I feel so disrespected. It's like, 'So, now Greg, you're gonna go against me? You're gonna go against me, right? You gonna go against Georges St. Pierre? Oh, OK. You gonna bring in Carlos Condit? He helped make you too. So where does your loyalty lie?' So, if you're gonna go against the people that helped make you, and I was somebody like in Jon's position, I'd be like, 'Man, if he'll go against some people that were with him, to help him get his notoriety, to help him get where he is, then damn, what would he do to me?'
Rashad Evans with his ex-team (Getty Images)Jackson has taken full responsibility and issued a series of mea culpas. Speaking to MMA Weekly radio, Jackson said he isn't perfect and that the events that transpired were a mistake, not some sort of evil plot.
I always try to take my responsibility in every situation, even if it doesn't go well. There was a protocol thing that I've said before that I said was big, we should have had earlier on, and I think that's directly and 100-percent my fault that we didn't have a plan for when this stuff would happen. I take responsibility on that end of it, for sure. We weren't ready for it. A lot of people had to pay prices for that.
UFC president Dana White has a much different, more blunt take: Jackson did what he did for the money. Jackson, White said, is a businessman who benefits financially from having as many star fighters in his camp as possible.
White wasn't ripping Jackson for trying to make a living, but rather pointing out that fighters shouldn't buy Jackson's "family" approach as sincere. Jackson, White says, is simply doing what he does to make as much money as he can.
"There is one thing that is an absolute fact, and no matter how often Greg Jackson pumps that family [expletive], Greg Jackson is a [expletive] businessman," White told Cagewriter. "The more top guys he brings in, the more money he makes. There's nothing wrong with Greg Jackson, but he's a [expletive] businessman. Some of these fighters, who ought to know better but don't listen to that [expletive] and don't take it for the crock of [expletive] that it is. These guys need to make the decision where they train based on where they think they'll get the best work and develop the best, and not on this [expletive] crazy idea that you're becoming a part of a family.
"Greg Jackson [expletive] told Rashad this wouldn't happen, that they're family and all that other [expletive], but look what is going on now. Look and see who is at Jackson's and who is not. Train where you think it's going to be best for you and if that's Jackson's, that's fine. Just don't buy into this family [expletive] because there's nothing to it. This is the fight business, not the friend business."