Facing an opponent he truly dislikes isn’t something new to top UFC light heavyweight contender Rashad Evans.
Two years ago, he took on -- and defeated -- Quinton Jackson. After his unanimous decision win at UFC 114, it was difficult to imagine Evans ever disliking an opponent more. But Saturday at UFC 145 in Atlanta, Evans will face a guy he seems to despise far more than Jackson -- 205-pound champion Jon Jones. And the feeling is mutual.
A year ago, Evans and Jones were friends and training partners. Today, however, they struggle to look one another in the eye without getting the urge to throw a punch. The disdain between them is powerful and has been on display the past few months leading to Saturday's showdown.
But with the fight only a few days away, Evans is done being angry with Jones. Sure, he'll articulate his dislike for Jones if asked, but he will do so without going off the handle.
It’s time to fight, and Evans refuses to let anything prevent him from being his best at UFC 145. So the former light heavyweight titleholder has put his emotions in check.
“When it comes to having a big fight and the buildup leading to it, emotions are involved,” Evans told ESPN.com. “You have to be able to divorce yourself from your feelings.
“What it comes down to is making it just another fight. Sometimes when guys have so much dislike for one another, it becomes hard to do.
“But at the same time, if you treat it professionally you will be able to do it.”...