Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans told ESPN.com on Thursday that he will not fight middleweight contender Vitor Belfort or any other teammate.
"I won't fight Vitor," said Evans, who trains with Belfort at Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla. "I won't fight Thiago Silva. I won't fight Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira. I won't fight anybody who I train with!
"I made that mistake before, and I won't do that again. I lost a lot of relationships because I did that before."
Evans' remarks come on the heels of an announcement Wednesday in New York by UFC president Dana White that the promotion has offered Belfort a fight with Evans. White extended the offer after Belfort rejected a bout recently with Tim Kennedy.
After he turned down Kennedy, Belfort's wife and manager, Joana Prado, told Brazil-based website Globo.com last week that the fighter would not accept any middleweight nontitle fights. She added that Belfort is willing to fight anyone at light heavyweight or heavyweight, even Kennedy.
White, who was in New York to promote upcoming title bouts, expressed disappointment with Belfort's demands. White added that he is currently not negotiating directly with Belfort.
"Vitor drives me crazy," White said. "I'm not dealing with Vitor. [UFC chairman and CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] is dealing with Vitor.
"Vitor didn't want that fight [with Kennedy], Vitor doesn't like that fight. So I said, 'Let's do him and Rashad. He wants to fight at a heavier weight, let's do him and Rashad.' I haven't heard back from [Belfort] on that one yet."
White need not hold his breath waiting for a response from Belfort; Evans has already made his intentions clear. Evans is still pained by what took place the previous time he faced a teammate.
Before joining the Florida-based Blackzilians fighting team, Evans spent several years training in Albuquerque, N.M., at Team Jackson-Winkeljohn. Current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was among Evans' teammates; they trained together regularly and developed a tight-knit relationship.
But their friendship soured in April 2012 when the two fought for Jones' 205-pound title. Previously, Evans and Jones vowed never to fight each other. In the weeks leading to the bout, they exchanged insults. While Evans and Jones are less hostile toward each other today, their once-close relationship remains strained.
Evans snapped a two-fight skid on June 15 with a split decision over Dan Henderson at UFC 161. ESPN.com ranks Evans fourth among light heavyweights.
Belfort has been seeking another shot at the middleweight title since Feb. 5, 2011, when then-champion Anderson Silva knocked him out in the first round at UFC 126. Since the loss, Belfort has won four of five fights.
His only setback during that time was a fourth-round submission to Jones in a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 152. Belfort is ranked third among middleweights by ESPN.com.