Jon Jones is putting his light heavyweight title on the line against the rising contender, Dominick Reyes. His former opponent and teammate, Rashad Evans, reveals what it will take for the title challenger to overthrow the 205-pound champion.
When Jon Jones began training at Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque New Mexico, Evans was the light heavyweight star. While “Suga” initially embraced fresh meat in the form of Jon Jones, the power shift fractured any budding friendship.
“I remember when he first came to Jackson’s and I watched him work out,” Evan said to ESPN. “I was like, man, now I’ve got somebody I can play with.
“We’d go back and forth, drilling and having fun.”
As Jones’ career has progressed, Evans has noticed an evolving conservative approach. The athletic flair remains a trait of Jones’ fighting personality, but it has been moderated since his early fighting days.
Arguably this is because strategically defending the title belt takes priority over show-stopping finishes. Also, “Bones'” close call fights such as his Thiago Santos split decision bout can make even the greatest fighter question their approach:
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” Evans said. “You see other people get knocked out and you’re like, ‘Nah, I’ve never been rocked, never been hurt.’ You don’t think it can happen to you. But years go by, and you go through difficulties that make you see things differently.”
The pair collided in the main event of UFC 145 in 2012 when Jones beat Evans by decision. With first-hand experience against the widely regarded G.O.A.T., Evans believes wreckless abandonment was the secret to Jones’ success, but also be his downfall.
“For Dominick Reyes, the best chance he has to beat Jon Jones is by fighting from that place of looseness, almost recklessness to an extent.
“That’s a place where Jon might not feel comfortable fighting anymore. He might shut down Reyes, sure. But fighting conservatively against a guy with no fear, you hesitate, and your opponent just goes for it. That’s a dangerous game.”
Do you agree with Rashad Evans or will Bones outfox Dominick Reyes? Sound off in the comments below.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/4/2020.