Photos courtesy of UFC
By Ben Morse
Two former friends turned enemies prepare to do battle for a prize both feel they deserve. Trained by the same teachers, a wedge emerged between the fierce warriors when one fell victim to physical hardship and the other stepped up in his place. Their inevitable battle, hardened by competition and perceived betrayal, has been delayed by obstacles, but now bears down hard as an unavoidable collision.
|Jon Jones unleashes a kick|
This may sound like the plot of a Marvel comic, but in actuality it’s a very real story that will unfold this Sunday at UFC 145 when Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones puts his title on the line against one-time teammate Rashad Evans.
In 2011, when Evans suffered a knee injury prior to a scheduled championship challenge, Jones subbed in and became the youngest titleholder in the history of UFC. A clash between the two has been anticipated for over a year, but been delayed several times due to physical setbacks on both sides. In the intervening period, Evans has left their mutual training camp and a personal rivalry has emerged.
Prior to their date with destiny coming up Saturday, April 21 on pay-per-view, both competitors talked with Marvel about the fight as well as their comics fandom.
Our chat with UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones can be heard on episode #24.5 of the This Week in Marvel podcast. We also reached Rashad Evans via phone the same day for the following conversation…
Marvel.com Tell me about the fight you’ve got coming up Sunday.
Rashad Evans: It’s me against UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones for the title.
|Rashad Evans in action|
Marvel.com: What’s the history between you guys?
Rashad Evans: We trained together and were friends. We had the same coaches and a lot of them are working with him now. We had a pact that if he won the title, I would get the first shot, but that didn’t happen. We’re not friends anymore, now it’s going to be strictly business.
Marvel.com: You’ve fought UFC legends like Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell—how does this fight stack up against those?
Rashad Evans: It’s up there. Those were big fights, but the personal element definitely adds something here.
Marvel.com: Given your history, are you preparing differently for this fight than you would against a different opponent?
Rashad Evans: No. I’m not going to do anything different. I’m going to fight hard. Again, once we get in there, it’s business.
Marvel.com: The whole scenario sounds like something out of one of our comics, but obviously it’s real. If this were a comic, how would you want to see it play out?
Rashad Evans: The guy who got betrayed and had his friend turn on him would win out in the end. The good guy has to win.
Marvel.com: You were a big Marvel fan as a kid—how did you get into comics?
Rashad Evans: My mom would go to the store and take forever to shop, so I’d just sit on the floor and read every comic they had. That’s how I learned to read, with comics. Spider-Man was my favorite character. I also wanted to be an artist. I would sit there drawing as I read, learning both as I went. I got [How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way] and made it through. I was pretty good.
Marvel.com: Maybe when your MMA career winds down you could come and work for us drawing Spider-Man.
Rashad Evans: I’d have to polish up my skills. I must have spent like 10,000 hours drawing as a kid.
Marvel.com: What about Spider-Man made him your favorite?
Rashad Evans: That he was a normal dude, an unassuming guy. He was never the biggest or strongest, he was always outmatched, but he found ways to win with his skills and his smarts.
Marvel.com: If you could carry any super power into the Octagon, what would it be?
Rashad Evans: That wouldn’t be cheating?
Marvel.com: Let’s assume the rules are off the table for the moment…
Rashad Evans: I’d want to be like Nightcrawler, he has the dopest powers. I’d just teleport around, sneak up on guys, take them out. Nobody would be able to catch me.
Marvel.com: What’s your favorite Marvel movie?
Rashad Evans: I liked “X-Men: First Class” a lot. I enjoyed the backstory, how Professor X and Magneto were friends before. I developed a whole new respect for Magneto. I’d take his side. He got betrayed by his friend.
Marvel.com: I guess that kind of brings us full circle…
Rashad Evans: Yep. I can relate.
Marvel.com: Good luck with the fight on Saturday.
Rashad Evans: Thanks. I’m gonna move like Nightcrawler.
Catch UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans this Saturday, April 21, only on pay-per-view. For more information, visit UFC.com.