Rashad Evans

(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)

Rashad Evans can admit it now: Before his last fight, the former UFC light heavyweight titleholder was scared.

Not scared of his opponent or fearful of being beaten up on live TV, though no one would blame Evans for being concerned about either.

Instead, it was fear of where his career might be headed after two consecutive defeats and whether his numerous critics might be on to something.

“You lose a couple fights in a row, it’ll happen,” Evans told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie. “Even though you may say, ‘The hell with everybody and whatever they’ve got to say about me, I’m still the best,’ in your mind, something seeps in and you wonder, ‘What if they’re right? What if I can’t do it?’”

That’s the situation Evans was facing when he took on Dan Henderson at UFC 161 in June. Evans escaped with a split-decision victory that helped put more space between him and the dreaded three-fight losing streak that often spells doom for UFC fighters. But the fear made him too careful and conservative in the main event bout, he says.

Saturday, Evans returns to the cage to take on Chael Sonnen (29-13-1 MMA, 7-6 UFC) at UFC 167 in Las Vegas (pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET). For Evans (18-3-1 MMA, 13-3-1 UFC), it’s a chance to face his fears.

“It’s the hardest thing to do,” Evans says. “You have to confront yourself and say, ‘This is how I feel. I’m afraid. These losses and what people are saying, it’s starting to get to me.’

“But you’ve got to face it, because if you don’t, and if you try to lie to yourself and say it’s not bothering you, it’ll come out. And it will come out at the most inopportune time, when you’re not ready for it.”

The added twist is that Evans and Sonnen are friends and occasional colleagues.

Both work as on-air analysts for Fox Sports, and neither seems particularly eager to hurt the other outside of a sporting context.

“I have to forget about Chael as a friend and go out there to compete against Chael the fighter,” Evans says. “He’s a great guy, and we have a great relationship, great work chemistry. But right now, we’ve got the same ambition.”

The upside is that fighting one of the sport’s most polarizing personalities on one of the biggest fight cards of the year is a perfect opportunity for Evans to prove he’s still a light heavyweight contender.

A decade into his professional career, he finds himself dogged by criticism of his style and persistent questions about his desire.

Yet, the fight game has a short memory, not to mention a fairly simple internal logic.

“If I go out there and put enough people away, the UFC is going to be begging me to fight (UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones),” Evans says. “That’s how I want it.

“I don’t want anything given to me. I’m a taker.”

For more on UFC 167, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

MMAjunkie Radio (1 p.m. ET): UFC on FOX 19's Rashad Evans and Cub Swanson, Joey Varner

  • 25 days ago
  • 8 views

MMAjunkie Radio kicks off at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) with guests Rashad Evans and Cub Swanson from the upcoming UFC on FOX 19 card, and WSOF 30 broadcaster Joey Varner in the studio to co-host.Filed u read news >>

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2175 with Rashad Evans, Cub Swanson, Joey Varner

  • 24 days ago
  • 5 views

Stream or download Monday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Rashad Evans, Cub Swanson and Joey Varner.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Rashad Evans asked for Jon Jones rematch, but UFC on FOX 19 booking nixed that

  • 24 days ago
  • 17 views

Rashad Evans definitely wanted another crack at Jon Jones and asked the UFC for the opportunity. The problem was, as it often is, bad timing.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, Radio Highlight, UFC, read news >>

Tony Ferguson Injured; Rashad Evans vs. Glover Teixeira Now Headlines UFC on FOX 19 Main Event

  • 24 days ago
  • 23 views

Tony Ferguson is out of his scheduled UFC on FOX 19 headlining bout opposite Khabib Nurmagomedov. read news >>

UFC on FOX 19 Road to the Octagon Full Video: Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans

  • 18 days ago
  • 25 views

As six talented UFC fighters prepare for UFC on FOX 19, experience their extraordinary lives and uncompromising training in UFC Road to the Octagon: Teixeira vs Evans. read news >>

UFC on FOX 19 Free Fight: Rashad Evans TKOs Forrest Griffin to Win Title

  • 18 days ago
  • 22 views

Forrest Griffin used his height and reach advantage to frustrate Rashad Evans in the first two rounds before Evans finally found his opening. read news >>

Rashad Evans regrets wasting energy on UFC 145 mental warfare with Jon Jones

  • 17 days ago
  • 17 views

As Rashad Evans approaches the four-year anniversary of his UFC 145 title loss to Jon Jones, he said he still desires another opportunity to mix it up with his former rival.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC on FOX 19's Rashad Evans talks title aspirations, and some advice for Saint Preux

  • 15 days ago
  • 18 views

TAMPA, Fla. – After battling ring rust in a previous bout, ex-champ Rashad Evans feels more like himself coming into a fight with Glover Teixeira in the headliner of UFC on FOX 19. Filed under: Featu read news >>

UFC on FOX 19 Weigh-in Results: Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans Officially Set

  • 14 days ago
  • 41 views

Following several shake-ups in the days leading up to the event, UFC on FOX 19: Teixeira vs. Evans is finally official after the fighters weighed in on Friday. read news >>

Who ya got?!? Fellow fighters predict UFC's Glover Teixeira vs. Rashad Evans headliner

  • 14 days ago
  • 27 views

TAMPA, Fla. – Who wins UFC on FOX 19’s light heavyweight main event between Brazilian slugger Glover Teixeira and former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans? Their fellow fighters give their read news >>