Rashad Evans doesn't mind being the bad guy; he just wants to beat Jon Jones at UFC 145 (Yahoo! Sports)


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

ATLANTA – The strain was visible on Rashad Evans' face, evident in his voice.

For the better part of 14 months, he's answered questions about the same incident regarding the same man, over and over. Everywhere he's gone, everyone he's seen, wants the answer to that one question: What happened?

Evans spent several hours Wednesday explaining why he's personally at odds with Jon Jones, whom he'll fight for the light heavyweight title Saturday at Philips Arena in the main event of UFC 145.

As he answered, the fire, resentment and passion that has made this fight so hot and generated so much interest from a burgeoning fan base was missing.

He spoke mostly in a monotone, flat-lined, staring straight ahead and showing none of the anger or hate that supposedly fueled this match and has helped make it one of the most highly anticipated bouts in UFC history.

"After a while, it's enough and you're ready for the fight to come," Evans said. "I'm ready to be done with talking and just go fight."

Though he's been in a few feuds in his career, Evans isn't a fighter who is fueled by grudges. He's the kind of guy who pauses the DVD player while watching tapes of boxer Roy Jones Jr., goes to the bathroom and comes out with his hair cut the same way as Jones.

He became friends with Roy Jones, who was once boxing's pound-for-pound king, about a year ago after studying his fight films for years. Evans invited Jones into his camp and the one-time superstar boxer provided him with valuable insights.

[ Related: Buy UFC 145 – Jon 'Bones' Jones vs. 'Suga' Rashad Evans ]

Roy Jones, who is no relation to Jon, told Yahoo! Sports that he was stunned when he heard a UFC crowd voraciously booing Evans. When he questioned it, he learned it was commonplace.

That, he said, didn't mesh with the guy he's come to call his friend.

"I have no idea what the hell these people are thinking who would dare boo a man like him," Roy Jones said. "Rashad is a good dude, a great dude. He's a funny guy. I don't bring people in close to me who aren't good people. This man is good. You hang with him and you know you're going to laugh and have a good time."

Evans is much like boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. in that he plays a character that seemingly delights in antagonizing fans and his opponent. The public railed against Evans when he grabbed his crotch and strutted around the cage after winning the title in 2008 by stopping Forrest Griffin.

He nearly drove Quinton "Rampage" Jackson off the edge with his acerbic quips when they coached against each other on "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2009.

That, though, is the public manifestation of " 'Suga' Rashad," the cocky, supremely talented fighter who will tell you what he's going to do and then smirks after he does it.

Those close to Evans, though, know that couldn't be farther from the truth. Nate Bryant is Evans' oldest brother and said there are distinct differences between "Suga' Rashad," the public figure, and plain old Rashad, his baby brother.

"He's a 180 [degree] difference from that character you see," Bryant said. "He's relaxed, he's jovial. That persona you see in public, that's 'Suga'. You can't be the same person when you're in the ring that you are in everyday life. When he makes the transition and becomes 'Suga', he plays that role and he plays it extremely well. But when he's away from the lights and away from the crowds, he's just a down-to-earth, humble, funny guy."

[ Kevin Iole: 'Suga', Jones' rivalry adds that much more intrigue to UFC 145 ]

Evans revels in the hate he's able to generate from UFC crowds. If you want to guarantee a chorus of boos in an arena filled with mixed martial arts fans, put Evans' mug on one of the video screens.

Bryant said Evans is comfortable with his role as one of the UFC's resident heels.

It didn't hurt that he was supremely competitive from a young age and reveled in overcoming steep odds.

"I think there was a point in time when it bothered him," Bryant said of the fan reaction. "But I think he grew to embrace it and to enjoy it. Rashad was always the smallest guy at whatever he did. He was the little guy and no one ever thought he could win and he loved upsetting them, taking their hopes and everything they had, and destroying that.

"He's loved being the underdog ever since he's been a kid. He'd always look for the biggest person and then he'd take it to that person. Always."

Not many think he can beat Jones, who is a 5-1 to 6-1 favorite to beat Evans and retain his title.

Evans is motivated by the odds, as well as by the fact that he's not only facing his one-time mentor, but also his former coaches, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn.

And while Roy Jones has great respect for Jon Jones' talents, he said it will take "a hell of a man" to defeat Evans.

"Jon Jones has got things he does that are great," Roy Jones said. "No question about it. Flat out great. But the secret is taking away the things he likes to do. If he likes to wrestle, you take away his wrestling. If he likes to throw his right hand, you force him to use his left. Rashad has a game plan, and it's not fair for me to talk about that, but this guy is a hell of a fighter, believe me when I tell you that.

"He's got the best hands in MMA, in my opinion. He's fast and he has a lot of power. He could be a boxer, if he wanted."

[ Video: Documentary explores Jon Jones' background and meteoric MMA rise ]

Evans, though, is in the right sport. He's 10th in the Yahoo! Sports rankings and is '12-1-1 in the UFC. He's beaten former champions Tito Ortiz, Jackson, Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell, and has been called the most underrated fighter in the world by UFC president Dana White.

White is correct when he says Evans doesn't get enough credit for what he's done, but at this stage, Evans isn't particularly concerned about anything other than getting his hand raised Saturday.

"I don't think I get my due, but that's something I'm all right with," Evans said. "I think that in time, I will get my due. Right now, I don't need to read my press clippings and I don't need to be impressed with what I've done or have anybody else tell me this or that.

"[A win over Jones] would be huge because it would show people that I'm as good as my record says and that I do show up to fight. I never think about that, about being in the Hall of Fame. There's still a lot left to do in my career.'"

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Dan Wetzel: Pat Summitt stepping down as Tennessee head coach, but impact remains
RB Trent Richardson exception to the rule as positional value keeps sliding
The best and worst NFL games of the 2012 season | Schedule |Team by team

view original article >>

Related News

  • 26 days ago
  • 133 views

Two UFC fights, two wins, and then a co-main event slot in bout three? That’s not a bad start to Jared Rosholt’s UFC career, but the heavyweight prospect has no problem being the guy across the Octagon more

  • 12 days ago
  • 471 views

"Suga" spoke to MMAmania.com today about the rumors swirling about him having an interest in wrestling for WWE. Brock Lesnar he is not ... yet. Pump the brakes on any thoughts you may have conjured about Rashad Evans leaving Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). A report surfaced yesterday (via Dave Meltzer's The Wrestling Observer newsletter) that stated Evans, "recently inquired regarding going to the WWE." The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion spoke more

  • 11 days ago
  • 43 views

After rumors emerged this week that former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was interested in making a move to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), 'Suga' clarifies the situation. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter indicated Wednesday that Evans had discussed the possible switch with pro wrestling officials over the July 4 holiday weekend in Las Vegas at the UFC Fan Expo. According to Meltzer, Evans' name has been on a short list of UFC fighters in talks to make the tra more

  • 11 days ago
  • 28 views

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is interested in a potential move to WWE after his fighting career only if “got paid” a significant amount. Rashad Evans is open to a potential move to World Wrestling Entertainment if the money is right. The former UFC light-heavyweight champion won't look to make the transition to professional wrestling anytime soon, but alluded to the possibility that he may consider that option once his fighting career is complete. "If I ever did anything li more

  • 28 days ago
  • 19 views

Bloody Elbow Radio, presented by Bad Boy, will be LIVE! at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT for another edition of the show. Join hosts Matt Bishop and Nolan Howell as they preview this weekend's two UFC Fight Night cards, including the main event bouts between Jeremy Stephens and Cub Swanson and the fight between Nate Marquardt and James Te Huna. We'll also discuss the ongoing Bellator saga, including the removal of Bjorn Rebney as the promotion's CEO in favor of former Strikeforce boss Scott Coker. We'll d more

  • 12 days ago
  • 24 views

Bloody Elbow Radio, presented by Bad Boy, will be LIVE! at 2 p.m. ET/4 p.m. ET for another edition of the show. Join hosts Matt Bishop and Nolan Howell as they discuss all the latest in mixed martial arts, including a look back at the weekend action, including UFC 175 with Chris Weidman's win over Lyoto Machida and Ronda Rousey's destruction of Alexis Davis, plus we'll discuss The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale, and Frankie Edgar's beating of B.J. Penn with Penn's subsequent retirement. We'll also p more

  • 13 days ago
  • 46 views

Before it was purchased by UFC parent Zuffa, Strikeforce was portrayed as a legitimate threat to the UFC’s dominance. But with Scott Coker now in charge of Bellator MMA, is that promotion now in the same position?Filed under: Bellator, News, UFC more

  • 16 days ago
  • 6 views

Trilogies are a rare thing to see in the realm of mixed martial arts. While the “immediate rematch” has become a common sight on the current landscape of the sport, the all-important “rubber match” only occurs on a limited basis. Yet, a third fight between two fighters is typically forged when both competitors have split the two previous meetings, and a final bout is scheduled to determine which fighter will take the series. Frankie Edgar had defeated BJ Penn both times they squared off—definiti more

  • 16 days ago
  • 92 views

LAS VEGAS – Ronda Rousey’s impact on women’s MMA is evident. After all, the UFC wouldn’t employ female fighters if it weren’t for the “Rowdy” one. But UFC boss Dana White believes she’s transcending the boundaries of MMA.Filed (...) more