Fighting teammates | Why Evans vs. Jones should not have happened

April 16, 2012 11:37 am by Lorenzo Luciano

By Lorenzo Luciano:

The next UFC pay per view event set to air on April 21, 2012 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta Georgia between former teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans has been tainted by an ongoing dispute between the two fighters.

It is an unwritten rule in MMA that teammates do not fight each other. Take a look at the American Kickboxing Academy which includes many UFC welterweight fighters as members, namely Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck (now with Dethrone Base Camp). They all refused to fight each other. Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch were both highly ranked welterweights in the world and would not fight each other, much to the chagrin of Dana White.

As part of a team, fighters train and get to know each other very well, inside and outside of the gym. The unwritten rule of not fighting teammates is not so much about knowing each others secrets as it is on respecting your teammates, on being a strong cohesive group, on forming bonds and friendships, and the respect that goes along with it.

Now, if you are a fighter and you know that you can beat your teammate who is the champion, what do you do?

Although this question can get very complicated, it is naive and simple to say that you would simply wait and not want to fight for that championship belt. Every fighter has a burning desire to be the champion, which is why they are fighters and not bankers. You cannot sit on the sidelines during your fighting prime because one of your teammates is the champion, which does not mean you go against your teammates. You can always leave your current team and start-up with another team and then fight. With full disclosure to your current team and teammates, they might not like you but would certainly respect you.

That brings us to UFC 145 and Jones vs. Evans. Evans was part of the Greg Jackson camp before Jones came into the picture. Greg Jackson accepted the young Jon Jones into the camp knowing he fought in the same weight category as Evans. Was that a mistake? Should these issues have been out in the open? Should Greg Jackson have been more honest with Evans? Perhaps events have happened that no one foresaw, including Greg Jackson.

Out of all of this, Evans ended up losing a team and a coach (and a friend?). Evans had no choice but to leave the Greg Jackson camp and start somewhere else, any self-respecting fighter would have done the same thing. On April 21st, Evans will have a chance to prove that he is the light heavyweight champion and Jon Jones will have a chance to show that all of this does not matter because he is the greatest light heavyweight MMA fighter the world has ever seen.

No matter what the outcome on April 21st at UFC 145, the events which have transpired leading up to this event will surely get MMA teams talking about rules and respect within the team.

Teams need to spell out their rules and regulations so that when new fighters join a team, the rules are well understood by all parties involved.

What do you think; will this change the rules for MMA teams and teammates?

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