One of the more feel-good stories from UFC 172 was the reconciliation between former teammates Jon Jones and Rashad Evans.
The UFC Light Heavyweight champion was spotted on Friday at the weigh-ins casually chatting with Evans in what seemed to actually be a cordial conversation.
Evans was at the event to corner Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, while Jones was preparing to defend his UFC title against Glover Teixeira. Shortly after the conversation, Jones admitted to MMA journalist Ariel Helwani on Fox Sports that he “missed” his former Jackson’s MMA teammate:
I saw Rashad and I honestly missed him. It was weird. I just missed him. The guy was definitely like a role model in a way when I first started off, and I'll always remember looking up to him. Even though we fought, it is so long in the past now, and I legitimately missed him.
Just two years ago, Jones defeated Evans by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 145 in one of the most anticipated title fights in UFC history.
The bickering between the former teammates stemmed from circumstances neither can be faulted over. Evans, a former UFC champ, was one of the fighters that helped turn Greg Jackson’s gym into a commercial success, which is why he was surprised when Jackson opted to bring in Jones.
In an old interview with Pro MMA Radio (h/t Fightline), he admitted that he told Jackson “no,” when approached about Jones joining the team. Jones’ skills were still raw at that point, but it was evident the tall, lanky light heavyweight was going places.
Normally, gyms are hesitant to take in multiple top contenders due to a natural apprehension of teammates one day having to fight one another. It’s tough to ask any fighter to openly bestow knowledge on someone vying for the same prize.
Evans deeply believed he was Jackson’s guy at 205 pounds, and he didn’t want to muddy the waters by bringing in another top light heavyweight talent. According to Evans, former UFC star Keith Jardine also wasn’t a fan of Jones joining the team. His primary concern stemmed from the possibility of having to fight Jones one day to keep his job.
Jackson eventually convinced Evans to agree to bring Jones on board, and things quickly unfolded pretty much the way Evans expected.
Under Jackson’s tutelage, Jones developed into one of the best light heavyweight fighters in the world, and he was soon given an opportunity to fight Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the UFC title, after Evans was forced to withdraw from the fight with an injury.
Feeling ostracized and betrayed by his team, Evans left Jackson’s MMA and became a nomad before finally settling in Boca Raton, Florida with the Blackzilians.
The venomous feud between Evans and Jones leading up to UFC 145 was a spectacle in itself, but the trash talk ceased immediately after the fight was over. It was as if a tornado had just blown through, leaving nothing but calm and irreparable damage in its wake.
Fortunately for Jones and Evans, they were able to salvage a little something over the weekend at UFC 172. Before joining Jackson’s MMA, Jones was just a young man looking for an opportunity to make it in this world. Evans was a world-class veteran expecting his team to ride with him until the end rather than bring in the next big star.
It took the passage of time for both Jones and Evans to finally realize that neither was at fault for what happened. After speaking with Jones, Evans posted a picture on Instagram of the reunion, wishing his former teammate luck in his seventh consecutive title defense.
For Jones and Evans, it would appear true that time really does heal all wounds.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.