While the UFC prides itself on being “as real as it gets” and certainly produces action inside the Octagon that is a legitimate sport and not staged like professional wrestling, that doesn’t mean the MMA juggernaut doesn’t capitalise on potential storylines between the fighters in order to sell PPVs.
Sure, the UFC isn’t Game of Thrones, but a common story we’ve seen over the years that’s led to some massive fights has been the story of betrayal. Whether its fighters switching camps or famous trainers bringing in new fighters under the nose of their old ones, nearly every time it’s happened it’s been big news. Here are five of the most shocking betrayals in UFC history.
#1 The ballad of Jones and Evans
Cast your mind back to 2008 for a second. That summer the UFC signed an unknown youngster called Jon Jones to step in as a late replacement in a prelim fight, while former TUF champion Rashad Evans picked up the biggest win of his career to date by knocking out UFC legend Chuck Liddell.
Fast-forward to 2010 and the two men were teammates. Jones had been bought into Greg Jackson’s camp after the coach spotted the potential he had, and Evans – Jackson’s star pupil and the now-former UFC Light-Heavyweight champion – was only happy to take the youngster under his wing.
By the time 2011 began it was clear that Jones was perhaps the best prospect in the weight class, while Evans was scheduled to fight champion Mauricio Rua in an attempt to regain his lost title. However, Rashad blew his knee out prior to UFC 128, so Jones was offered the title shot instead.
With Rashad’s blessing, he took the chance and subsequently destroyed Rua to take the title for himself. When he was asked about Rashad, Jones told the MMA media that he’d be happy to fight his training partner if he were asked.
Suddenly, it seemed like the world was against Evans – well, the world of Jackson’s MMA that is. Despite having seniority over the new champion, Rashad found himself ostracised by his own team and coaches, and when it was clear that he was on a collision course with Jones, he was swiftly forced out of the Albuquerque-based team and had to form his own camp in Boca Raton. When the fight eventually took place, Jones defeated Evans in a lopsided judges’ decision.
Years later Rashad remarked that he wished things had gone down differently and that he’d largely buried the hatchet with Jones and Jackson, although “things would never truly be the same”. Is it any wonder given he came off on the wrong end of one of the UFC’s greatest betrayals?