Casual observers of MMA are often surprised when fighters are able to shake hands only moments after smashing one another in the face. Combat sports inherently demand respect, at least from a competition standpoint, and when it’s displayed in context, it’s a testament to the character and mental fortitude of those who choose to compete in MMA.
Respect in the cage and respect on a personal level can be very different, however. It’s hard to forget, for example, the heckling Chael Sonnen, whose wit carries not only a comical tone, but an underlying bite that can make even the pound for pound best fighter in the word grind his teeth. Or who can ignore Nick Diaz, whose brilliance in the cage is equaled only by his animosity for the world around him.
Our cover fighter Rashad Evans is another one to add to the list. His feud with Rampage Jackson was well documented on season 10 of TUF, and we were all disappointed not to see someone beat the brakes off the other at the show’s finale. But Rashad has a new bone to pick—one with the current Light Heavyweight champ, and it’s one that has deeper roots than a schoolyard showdown. Once friends and training partners, the friction between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones prompted Evans to leave his longtime home with Greg Jackson and relocate to sunny Florida. While Jones enjoys the spotlight and the spoils that being a UFC champ brings, Evans is hard at work honing his skills and developing a game plan that he believes will not only derail the Jones hype train, but also return the belt to its proper home. To read more about Rashad’s reasons and motivations, turn to page 54.
Of course, fighting isn’t the only way to squash a beef. A few weeks ago, Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier were spotted doing battle, not in the cage, but on the dance floor at the FIGHT! Magazine party in Ohio. Pics or it didn’t happen you say? Turn to page 18 for a recap on an alternate version of fighters earning respect.