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'Are you able to pull the trigger?' - Rashad Evans asks important questions about 'friends fight' Usman vs Burns before UFC 258

Jon Jones (far left); Rashad Evans (left); Kamaru Usman (right); Gilbert Burns (far right)
Jon Jones (far left); Rashad Evans (left); Kamaru Usman (right); Gilbert Burns (far right)
Johny Payne
Modified 25 Feb 2021

Rashad Evans has asked an important question about the Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns ‘friends fight’ at UFC 258. Evans believes that whether or not one can ‘pull the trigger’ in a fight against a friend is the question that a fighter ought to ask oneself.

UFC Hall of Famer Rashad Evans is no stranger to fighting friends inside the octagon. Evans, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, was a mainstay at the world-renowned Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

However, Rashad Evans eventually parted ways with Jackson Wink, later revealing that the gym overlooked him and the other fighters who originally helped turn it into a world-famous training facility.

Back then, Rashad Evans had served as a mentor to many young up-and-coming fighters at Jackson Wink. One of these young fighters was none other than Jon Jones. Rashad Evans and Jon Jones used to be good friends but later turned into bitter rivals. The former believed that the gym overlooked him and accorded Jones excessive importance.

Rashad Evans and Jon Jones subsequently chose to fight one another inside the octagon. Evans challenged Jones for the latter’s UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 145 in April 2012, hoping to regain the title. Nevertheless, Jones ended up defeating Evans via unanimous decision.

The UFC 258 fight between Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns shares similarities with the aforementioned story. Speaking to ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, Rashad Evans weighed in on the Usman vs. Burns matchup. Evans stated:

“Fighting a friend is different because when it comes time to land that blow to end the fight that could permanently scar your opponent, are you going to be able to pull the trigger knowing that you’re going to have to look in his eyes again? Knowing that you may have to really hurt him, knowing his family, knowing his background, knowing all those things. Are you gonna be able to pull the trigger and do what needs to be done? Despite how that guy might come out on the other end.”

On that note, UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns have consistently asserted that they have no problem going all out in fighting each other, regardless of their past as longtime training partners.

Akin to the Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones story, Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns now train at different gyms

Gilbert Burns (left); Kamaru Usman (right)
Gilbert Burns (left); Kamaru Usman (right)

Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns trained for several years at the Blackzilians gym, and later Sanford MMA, in Florida. However, Usman recently moved his training camp to Colorado and has been working with revered MMA coach Trevor Wittman.

On the contrary, Gilbert Burns continues working at their old gym, Sanford MMA, which is also one of the top-tier MMA training camps in the world.

Published 14 Feb 2021, 03:07 IST
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