The rivalry between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones is as real as it gets.

I truly believe in my heart that Evans and Jones still want to be friends, but unfortunately, destiny has torn them apart.

When you get down to the beef between the two, it revolves around one man, and that’s Jones’ current coach and Evans’ former coach, Greg Jackson.

This was apparent during the UFC 145 conference call that saw Evans talk about the fun times he had with Jones, and for most of the call, both fighters were cordial with one another and very respectful.

That was until the subject of Jackson came up.

Evans was quick to bury his former coach and make him out to be the definition of a traitor, which led to Jones stepping in and defending his coach, his mentor, his friend.

Both were passionately divided, and this is what caused the riff in their relationship and remains the riff between Jones and Evans today. You could say that it forced their hand into doing battle with one another.

Instead of your occasional grudge match, filled with hype and build up, the rivalry between these two is so real that it’s awkward.

Rather than having Chael Sonnen giving us a laundry list as to why Anderson Silva is overrated, Jones and Evans have been quiet until they’ve had to fill their media obligations. This is where this rivalry is unlike anything in recent memory.

As satisfying as you thought a staredown between Jones and Evans would be immediately after Jones had retained his title, it wasn’t at all. It was uncomfortable and felt weird.

I have no doubt that if these fighters could, they wouldn’t fight one another. Deep down, they do like one another, and they do miss each other’s friendship. You can look at recent interviews where both have said so, but Evans is out for revenge. He’s out to prove something to Jackson more so than to Jones, and he wants to show him that he chose the wrong side.

Evans feels wronged, and Jones feels forced into this showdown. This isn’t a storyline to sell tickets. No, this is much more than that. This is personal on so many levels, and the only way these two can rehash their friendship is after putting everything on the line inside of the Octagon.

No matter the result of the fight, both fighters will shake hands and embrace once this fight is over, and I think they’ll be friends once again.

This rivalry isn’t a fabrication, because simply if it was, it would have been more enjoyable. There would have been more one-liners and intense staredowns.

At UFC 145, one of MMA’s most bitter rivalries will conclude in an action-packed main event. Then—and only then—Jones and Evans will finally be able to move on with their lives.

Photo: Jon Jones (L) faces off with Rashad Evans (Scott Cunningham)

About The Author

Jake Martin

Jake attends Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., where he studies Mass Communication in print and public relations. He is also the sports editor of his school newspaper, The Nicholls Worth. Jake works at the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, La. during the summer.