"I want to be clear to other reporters, that I absolutely hate when people mention Rashad Evans, especially throughout this training camp. He's a friend of mine but I'm fighting Mauricio 'Shogun,' one of the best fighters that's been around for a long time. So for people to even be mentioning Rashad Evans right now, I think, is ludicrous. Rashad is not in my mind, he's not in my being, he has absolutely zero to do with my heart and who I am right now. Right now it's me vs. Jon Jones and right now I'm beating all the weakness out of myself, I'm beating all the give-up out of myself, I'm beating the lack of cardio, I'm beating the lack of confidence; any sign of weakness that's within my heart right now, I'm getting rid of it. The fact that people are bringing up Rashad, it almost angers me. Rashad has nothing to do with 'Shogun' and I think from here on out I won't even answer a question about Rashad."
Apparently Evans has taken that response as a slight to him, and as he continues to warm up to a potential fight with Jones in the future he has responded to Jones' comments to the media.
"[Those comments do] sound a little bit cold-blooded," Evans said in an interview with Pro MMA Radio (transcribed at BloodyElbow.com). "Jon's a young guy and when you're a young guy sometimes you talk a little too fast for your brain to keep up... I don't think it's acceptable at all. I don't think it's something I'd say."
"It sounds like he wants to fight, huh?" Evans continued. "Those sound like fighting words. I don't know how to judge the kid. It's kind of messed up, to be honest. I can't control what anyone else says and it sounds to me like he's a little bit insecure about the whole thing. Sometimes when you open your mouth you show what you're afraid of more than anything. I don't know why he has such an adverse response like that to me. I've never challenged him or made him feel like he should do that sort of thing. It sounds to me -- if I was out of the situation -- that he was feeling insecure about me. ... (It made Jon) sound like a baby."
Evans continues to sit on the sidelines awaiting the outcome of this weekend's fight, and though he hasn't made up his mind of whether he'd fight Jones or not, his manager told MMAFighting.com that he's mulling over switching camps should he accept a fight with Jones down the line.
Penick's Analysis: Evans took Jones' comments in completely the wrong way, and he's the one coming off as insecure and thin-skinned here. Jones was simply sick of hearing questions about whether the two of them would fight, he wasn't taking a shot at Evans during that call. He was feeling disrespected at the fact that a lot of people are looking past this fight with "Shogun" and spending too much time on what could happen afterward. Evans doesn't come off well with this type of response, but at the same time it's opening the door to that fight happening with Evans now feeling disrespected. He's taking it entirely wrong, of course, but that's on him.
[Rashad Evans art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]