"It was very disappointing just because I wanted this fight so bad. I wanted to fight Jon really bad. It's one of those fights that's got so much more meaning to it than just a fight, from everything that went down at Jackson's, and this is a fight I wanted to have not only from a personal aspect, but from a competitive aspect as well. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jon as a fighter and I really like to watch him fight. I enjoy the growth that I have seen him have as a fighter just from the short time I have seen him come in the gym until now. I'm kinda proud of Jones in one way, but in another way, I wanna smash him up," stated former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who spoke about his disappointnment in not being able to face current champion Jon Jones due to his hand injury. You don't want to miss what else he had to say about Jones, his replacement for the fight, Lyoto Machida, and much more. Check it out!
PC: It's been so long since we spoke, I gotta congratulate you on the victory over Tito Ortiz. How do you feel about that performance?
RE: I feel good about the Tito fight. When you are off for so long, you never know how you are going to come back, so to be able to answer all of the critics saying I was going to have all of this ring rust felt really good. There were actually a few things that I had been working on that I actually got to use during that fight, so I felt pretty good and I was really comfortable in there.
PC: You worked with Tyrone Spong and the aggression was there, as well as the knees, which eventually finished that fight. How much did working with Tyrone Spong influence your performance in that fight against Ortiz?
RE: Man, Tyrone Spong helped me out a lot for that fight. He has turned out to be a great friend, like a brother to me. To have him to compete against and train with at the level he is at, just by being around him, I had to develop a little bit more. But you know, that's what it becomes about; just emerging yourself with those kinds of techniques and then pretty soon, you will start doing it second nature.
PC: How is your hand doing and what is the healing process for you just getting back to training?
RE: When I got the pins out, which was about 4 or 5 days ago, I just assumed that I would be able to resume doing what I do, but the bone healed up and when the bone healed, my joints and ligaments got used to being in one position. They were in that position for so long, so now I gotta get them stretched out and go to rehab so I can relearn how to move my hand in the correct way. And then my hand is still very tender, so there is going to be a 3 to 4 week process when it comes to getting ready so I can fight. And honestly, it will be that long of a process before I can even train again, so it's going to be more of a process than I thought. I don't have any grip strength or nothing like that, so I need to let it heal correctly.
PC: Jon Jones said he feels you are ducking the fight, but I know how badly you wanted this fight. How disappointing was it for you not to be able to accept this fight?
RE: It was disappointing. It was very disappointing just because I wanted this fight so bad. I wanted to fight Jon really bad. It's one of those fights that's got so much more meaning to it than just a fight, from everything that went down at Jackson's, and this is a fight I wanted to have not only from a personal aspect, but from a competitive aspect as well. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jon as a fighter and I really like to watch him fight. I enjoy the growth that I have seen him have as a fighter just from the short time I have seen him come in the gym until now. I'm kinda proud of Jones in one way, but in another way, I wanna smash him up!
PC: After he beat Shogun for the title, I watched you do an interview and I have never seen you be as emotional as you were when you told the interviewer that you were done with Jackson's MMA. How tough was it to walk away from that camp?
RE: It was a very difficult situation because I called the situation from the jump. I almost guaranteed that that would come in between us and when it happened, and to see what side they chose, it was kind of hurtful, especially because I was one of the fighters that seeked out to train with Greg Jackson. It was kind of like, that's what it's about. Any opportunity you have to better deal me, then you better deal me. It was just hurtful because I thought we were closer than that and it was just sad to see that we weren't, and I really believed in everything that I thought the Jackson camp stood for and come to find out, it was just about opportunity.
PC: You were ringside for the Jones/Rampage fight. You have actually been in the ring 3 times with Jones only for the fights not to happen. What did you take away from both guys performance, Rampage and Jones?
RE: I think that Rampage had some bright spots in the fight, but one of his troubles was what I always thought he had trouble with, in my opinion, and that's his footwork. He just doesn't have the footwork to use his powerful hands. That's what the fight came down to for me. As far as Jon's performance, I thought it was pretty good and he was very crafty and looks like he was having fun out there. I thought he had a very good performance.
PC: Now you are in a weird place because if things fall into place where you are still next in line for a title shot, you have a guy in Jon Jones who you have been wanting to fight because of the background, and the guy who gave you your only loss as a fighter in Lyoto Machida. Do you have a preference if in fact the winner of that fight is next?
RE: Um...I'm always wanting to fight Jon, so I'm hoping Jon can pull through it, but if anybody can give him trouble, I would think it would be Machida, and for a couple of reasons. One reason is because Machida's used to that kinda craftiness and movement because he trains with Anderson Silva, so he's used to seeing that. That's where Jon Jones got a lot of his style from is Anderson Silva. So Lyoto is used to training with the originator. Now one thing that Jon Jones brings to the table that Anderson doesn't is the ability to take the fight to the ground. He brings that ground and pound and Jon is very good at that, so there are a couple of areas where Lyoto will have to watch out for Jon, but for the most part, if he can use his footwork and watch out for some of the tricks and not stay on the outside and watch like everyone else does...but I think he could do pretty good in this fight.
PC: What did you think of UFC 136? They had some good fights my man.
RE: Ah man, it was a really good card. They had a lot of great fights. None of my boys won, so it was kind of disappointing in that aspect, but in MMA, that's how the game is. You really can't take it too personal. I was sad to see Kenny lose the way he did. I thought if Kenny would have stuck to that game plan that he fought in the 1st round, there is no doubt he would have won that fight. Jose Aldo did a really good job of making Kenny fight his fight after that 1st round where he came out looking so good. As far as Frankie and Gray, I gotta take my hat off to Frankie, man. That dude is just amazing. Gray caught him with a lot of tough shots in that 1st round, and for him to come back like he did and finish the way he did was just amazing. That was a performance that I was just in awe about.
PC: Frankie got some dog in him, man, and I think he has erased a lot of doubt.
RE: I honestly...the thing about Frankie is where he come from with it. He just came out of nowhere with it and now he is this certified beast and it is just impressive, but I'm just so gutted for Gray, man. Gray is like my brother and to see him lose like that was hard for me to watch.
PC: I know you are a big boxing fan. What was it like in Philly to have Bernard Hopkins give you some pointers and then in turn say how impressed he was with your performance?
RE: Ah man, it was amazing because I have watched him perform so many times. I am a big Bernard Hopkins fan. I watched him before I even thought about fighting professionally, so to see him and have him give me advice was surreal. I never thought that I would even have a chance to meet him, let alone get advice from him, so it was a great experience. The crazy thing about it is this right here. I met Jean Pascal yesterday. I was hanging out with him here in South Florida and the first thing he said to me was, "You know that punch that Hopkins gave you with the left hook?" I was like, "Yeah." He said, "Man, he stole that from me. That's what I do." It was funny to hear him say it, man, because he watched it (laughing). He was like, "This dude done stole my stuff and then act like he made it up." But you know, best of luck to Bernard Hopkins, who has a tough fight this weekend against Chad Dawson.
PC: A lot of boxers are starting to respect what you guys are doing over there in MMA.
RE: What I think it is, they're starting to understand the MMA experience and once you understand it, you get it right away. There are so many facets of the sport; it's just not boxing, it's just not karate, and it's not one thing, so being able to know how to go at those disciplines flawlessly is a craft in itself. Once you get to see that and understand that, you can appreciate it a lot. It's hard to not get beaten in MMA because there are so many ways to lose. I just do one fight at a time. Somebody asked me what my record was the other day and I told them, "I don't even know, man. I just do one fight at a time." And that's true. I don't keep up with my record.
PC: And not only is there so many different ways to lose, but you fight so many different styles. It's not like Rashad Evans can only ask for guys who want to box or wrestle; kind of what Rampage is doing right now basically, saying he wants to go to boxing because he wants to stand and trade.
RE: That's true, and you know what? Rampage is better than that. I think his problem is he has gotten a little bit frustrated and he has to tap into that dog again. Back in the day, when he fought in Pride, he was a beast. Not because he had the best technique, but because he had that dog in him and he was pissed off and he fought like he was pissed off. He don't fight like that dog anymore.
PC: He still has the look and the staredown, but once the horn sounds, like you said, something is missing there.
RE: Yeah, he's got the look, but the dog is gone.
PC: I appreciate your time. I hope you have a speedy recovery. We definitely gotta stay in touch a little better. Is there anything you want to say to your fans in closing?
RE: Man, I just want to thank all of the fans who support me and all of the fans who came out to the Expo in Houston. And if I didn't get to sign an autograph, I apologize and hit me up on Twitter and I will see if I can send you something. So hit me up @SugarRashadEvans and that's about it.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]