An inside tip for the Rashad Evans fan base who plans on sending "you stink" tweets and the Iike to Jon Jones: Don't do it.
It produces the reverse reaction in the mind of Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion and former training partner of Evans.
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“Everybody who tweets me ‘You’re gonna get knocked out,’ it all helps,” Jones told Newsday. “Because it --- me off to the point where I have to work some steam off.”
Yes, Evans already is planted inside the mind of the 24-year-old Jones and Thursday's UFC 145 news conference has yet to even take place in Atlanta. That begins at 1 p.m. to begin promoting their April 21 fight, and given Evans' track record and skills with the microphone, the Atlanta sanitation department workers will clock some serious overtime with all the trash being talked.
Jones said he prefers it that way now. At least a little bit.
“Rampage [Jackson], he motivated me so much with all the trash-talking,” Jones said about his first title defense last September. “He gave me extra fuel. I remember going into the Lyoto [Machida] fight [in December] thinking, ‘Man, Lyoto isn’t talking any trash.’ But because he was so silent, I was like ‘He’s probably out there in the jungle just getting it in, doing some push-ups, eating berries, he might come out and tear me up.’”
Machida got into Jones’ head a little bit – and was submitted in the second round. Jackson was the first to get into Jones’ head – and was submitted in the fourth round.
And he wants Evans in his head. Any opponent, really. It is a departure from Jones' past preferences. Another lesson learned during 2011, a year that had Jones fighting four times including two title defenses.
“I’m starting to realizing that I kind of want people in my head,” said Jones (15-1). “When you’re training and your whole life revolves around one person, it’s good that they’re in your head. They should be in your head.”
Which helps explain why in between interviews during a Valentine’s Day media tour to promote the release of the UFC Undisputed 3 video game, Jones had a controller in his hand and kept pushing buttons that allowed the computerized version of himself to deliver punches and kicks to the head, face and body of his opponent -- Evans.
Somewhere in between the forthcoming back-and-forth between Jones and Evans (22-1-1) is this crucial question: since both fighters were good friends and training partners as recently as one year ago, how will that familiarity manifest itself in the cage on April 21?
Jones thinks it completely favors him, not surprisingly.
“When I met him, he was kind of already primed out, and maybe plateauing right now, or maybe even slightly decreasing right now,” Jones said. “He met me as this young whippersnapper who was trying to climb, climb, climb.”