Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans isn't going to let there be a second time.
Speaking to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, Evans talked about his timetable for a return (February 2015) and also discussed having another rising contender in the light heavyweight division in the same gym as him once again:
We fight every day, we are each other's No. 1 training partners. Would I fight him professionally? No, I wouldn't fight him. ... I believe with the relationship Anthony and I have, that bridge is a bridge that, if it ever needs crossing, we will find a different way to handle it, than it did the first time (with Jon Jones).
Evans was referring to Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, his teammate at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center (affectionately called the "Blackzilians"). Since returning to the UFC, Johnson has run through the competition, easily defeating Phil Davis at UFC 172 and wrecking Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC on Fox 12.
If you'll recall, Evans was involved in the highly publicized split with his longtime coach Greg Jackson and Jones. Evans and Jones had one of the more intense, personal rivalries in recent memories.
The two would eventually meet at UFC 145 with Jones emerging victorious. Since then, it appears as though the two have reconciled and put the past behind them.
We've heard this story before, and the chance at a UFC title shot (along with Dana White providing a gentle nudge) has a way of changing things. Luckily for Evans, this situation isn't anywhere close to the one he experienced with Jones.
For one, Evans isn't in the title picture so long as Jones remains champ. Even then, it would take a few impressive wins for fans to consider Evans a viable contender. Let's not forget he hasn't exactly been a world-beater in his past few outings (the Chael Sonnen massacre aside).
Johnson, meanwhile, is on the cusp of getting a title fight and will likely be paired up with Alexander Gustafsson (depending on his rehab from injury) or possibly Glover Teixeira. If Johnson does end up getting a title shot or becoming champion (as some predict), we could see Evans reconsider the idea of dropping to middleweight.
Or he could go the route that Urijah Faber is going now, taking fights to simply stay active and collect a paycheck.