Jones will meet Vitor Belfort next week at UFC 152 in Toronto, and during a media conference call on Tuesday he reflected on why he didn't finish Evans in that last bout.
"With Rashad, I think a part of me saw a guy that I had sparred against, and I don't know ? some of those elbows were definitely malicious, but my killer instinct was just not there for some reason," Jones said (transcribed by MMAJunkie.com). "I was more focused ? and I hate to say this ? on just winning that fight."
"I'm not going to sit here and say I took it easy, but there was something in my bones that didn't allow me to really, really try to really hurt him. And I think that was a small part about why I couldn't finish Rashad. And, to his credit, Rashad is an awesome warrior. He (had) only lost once in like 20-something fights."
Jones clearly still holds some respect and reverence for his former training partner and friend, and though he would have liked to walk away with a finish in April, it just wasn't to be.
"Me and Rashad are both gifted," Jones said. "We're both winners. Our styles are different, entertainment factors could be different, but at the end of the day, we're both winners. To go against a winner, and I feel as if I dominated him, that speaks for itself. Finishing, I wish I could have. But I couldn't."
However, don't expect that to become a trend. The 25-year-old expects to see that killer instinct return next Saturday in Toronto, and believes he won't have any issues being in that mindset against Belfort.
"That's something I've been trying to reobserve myself on from a psychology level," Jones said. "But Vitor is someone that I really don't know, and I think I'll have a better time going out there and feeling like I'm at war."
Penick's Analysis: There was definitely a sense from Jones in that bout against Evans that he didn't want to make any mistakes. He wasn't as aggressive as he's been in his other title bouts, and even though he was clearly in control of the action, he wasn't attacking with the same type of ferocity we've seen from him in most of his bouts. It easily could have been a mental issue in fighting someone he's known closely, or it could have been an issue of not wanting to screw up and lose to Evans in a result he'd never have been able to live down. Whatever the reason, it won't likely be on his mind come next Saturday, and we might see him once again fight like he did against Lyoto Machida, "Rampage" Jackson, and "Shogun" Rua last year.
[Jon Jones art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]