Sunday, April 22, 2012 | 2:30 a.m.
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- Meet Michael McDonald, cage fighting phenom and carpentry whiz
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- UFC 145 breakdown, betting odds and picks
- UFC schedule kicks into high gear with Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans
- Rashad Evans: ‘Jon Jones imitates me’
- Jon Jones and Rashad Evans further sound off on their rivalry
- UFC 145: A look at the long-awaited card up next
- UFC 145 section
- UFC coverage
ATLANTA — This sounded like a rejection.
A few minutes after defeating Rashad Evans by unanimous decision to retain his light heavyweight championship at UFC 145, a bubbly Jon Jones sat to the right of UFC President Dana White and gave a suggestion. Jones expressed a desire to renew a friendship with Evans.
“Hopefully, we can do that in private and work on that in the future,” Jones said, “because I do have tons of respect for Rashad and I know he has some respect for me on some degree. There’s a lot of emotions between us that could lead to a friendship.”
Evans stayed stoic on the other side of White, not so much as flinching while Jones spoke about wanting to “rekindle a respect level” and opening “some type of communication”.
The former light heavyweight champion only responded when prompted by a reporter. While Evans didn’t completely shoot the idea down, saying he had reservations would be an understatement.
“We’ll probably be competing again one of these days,” Evans said, “so we’ll keep it on a level where we can say, ‘what’s up,’ but at the same time, be willing to beat the hell out of each other if we have to.”
With that, Jones offered a comical, ‘aw, man.’ Most of the room erupted in laughter. Evans grinned, but not even the faintest of chuckles escaped his mouth.
Putting a rivalry that got increasingly hostile before UFC 145 to rest was high on Jones’ priority list Saturday at Philips Arena. It was much lower on Evans’ side, if ending the feud even registered at all after Jones won 13 out of possible 15 rounds combined on three judges’ scorecards.
“It takes a while for it to sink in,” Evans said. “I’ve still got to go home and probably cry a little bit. Besides that, I don’t know.”
It’s hard to put complete stock into any of Evans’ thoughts on the matter immediately after the contest. Emotions tend to overwhelm fighters who lose in bouts as meaningful as the UFC 145 main event.
Evans insisted on one thing, though. He was confident he could have given Jones a better test than he did.
“I don’t think I did a good job,” Evans said. “I didn’t do the things I trained to do. It was just something I wish I had back.”
Jones heaped praise upon Evans. At times, it felt like the champion was trying too hard to cheer up Evans.
“I would totally say that Rashad has been my toughest fight to date,” Jones said. “I think a lot of it is how talented and awesome of a fighter he is, and a lot of it came from my slight insecurity fighting Rashad.”
If Evans has it his way, a rematch is in the future. He brushed off questions about potentially changing weight classes.
Evans is not prepared to move on. A few lingering issues with Jones aren’t what’s important to him.
“I’ll continue to pursue and try to be the champion,” Evans said.