Rashad Evans: My whole career has been leading to UFC 145 with Jon Jones
(This is the third in a series of Yahoo! Sports exclusive blogs from “Suga” Rashad Evans as he prepares to fight bitter rival and UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones on April 21.)
I went to Puerto Rico last week to promote my April 21 title fight against Jon Jones on pay-per-view.
The reception I got was the craziest I’ve ever had in my UFC career. It was the coolest thing I’ve done in this sport since I won “The Ultimate Fighter 2” in 2005. The fans were so insane; there were hundreds down there to see me, and then boxing legend Felix “Tito” Trinidad – who is in Puerto Rico – showed up and I got to meet him. I was a huge Tito fan when he was doing his thing in the 1990s and early 2000s. He was a great fighter who had skills, speed and a lot of power. It was really great to meet him and, even though I got in my workouts, my mind was off of UFC 145 for a few hours and it was one of the most insane experiences of my life.
I came back home feeling very energized and ready for the last couple of hard weeks of camp.
Funny, for this fight there’s been a lot of questions about smack talk and there’s going to be more come fight week – believe me – but meeting Trinidad and tennis star Victoria Azarenka a few weeks ago have been two of the coolest things I’ve done in the UFC.
Soon though, it’ll be time to get serious. The April 21 fight symbolizes so much for me. It feels like everything I’ve been going through, everything in my whole career and in my life, has all been leading up to this moment and this fight.
Yeah, I want to beat Jon and prove a point that he’s not this god we all need to pray to at night. He said on live TV that America could learn from him. I Googled it: There are 311,591,917 people living in America right now and Jon Jones thinks that 311,591,916 of them need to learn from him. He’s a drop in a bucket like the rest of us. The guy praises himself going to sleep.
But the thing is, opponents have been buying into that, too.
Watching at ringside last September at UFC 135, I couldn’t believe the way Quinton “Rampage” Jackson fought Jon. He gave him too much respect and way too much distance. You have to be “in” or “out” with Jon – either out of range looking to come in with strikes and takedowns, or you got to be in his face throwing and pushing his ass against the fence. He’s got too much reach on you to be in the mid-range – that’s his sweet spot – and you can’t get caught out there with him.
I know Jones has tweeted and been doing interviews about me. That’s what happens in big fights and especially this one. But I’m at the point where I’m not really bothered by anything he says. What he says makes no sense anyway. He thinks he’s something so special people need to bow to him when they seem him on the street.
Does it motivate me? At this point, not really. There’s really not much more he can say to me to motivate me. I’m already motivated for this fight; I’m motivated beyond reason. Yeah, I want to be the first guy to really beat Jon, yeah, I want my title belt back and I want to show my former trainer what’s what.
But this fight is not about proving a lot of people wrong about Jon Jones; it’s about proving me right.
I’m one of the very best light heavyweights out there and it’s time for me to cement my legacy. I’ve beat top guys for years and years – before Jon was even in the UFC – and in a sport where everyone loses big fights here and there, I’ve had one bad night in seven years. This is the perfect opportunity and perfect chance for me to show that I’m as good as my record says I am.
The illusion of or the mythical Jon Jones that the other guys fought, it doesn’t exist for me. I know how weak he is mentally – all the doubts he has about himself. I’m going to be the first one to stop this kid.
I saw an interview where he says he’s not giving it to me. He don’t have to. I’m taking it from him at UFC 145 on April 21.
Who you got? Tell “Suga” how you see the fight going on Twitter: @SugaRashadEvans
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