UFC 167's Rashad Evans: I had to admit I was afraid


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.
From Around the Web

Related News

  • 21 days ago
  • 16 views

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans won't be returning to action anytime soon. As reported on UFC Tonight on Wednesday, Evans underwent a second procedure to correct the torn anterior read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 3 views

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will miss an additional six to seven months after his body rejected a cadaver ACL placed in his injured knee. Marc Raimondi of MMA Fighting passed a read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 1 views

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was sidelined for all of 2014, and will be for most of 2015 as well after having a second ACL surgery. read news >>

  • 15 days ago
  • 0 views

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans had a major issue with his first ACL surgery and was forced to undergo another one, which will delay his return to the octagon. It doesn't look like read news >>

  • 10 days ago
  • 5 views

When Anthony Johnson faces UFC light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones for the belt in May, the outcome of the fight could also decide Rashad Evans' future in the UFC. Because should his teammate win read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 3 views

The month of January was absolutely jam-packed with exciting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events, and while there was a fair share of scandal, there was also a ton of intriguing storylines to read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

A critical light heavyweight fight between Daniel Cormier and Ryan Bader has been announced, and it will likely serve as the headline for UFC Fight Night on June 6. The announcement was made on Twitt read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 0 views

Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans underwent a second knee surgery in January and will be sidelined for another 6 to 7 months. Remember when that UFC Fight Night 61 main event between read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 6 views

Dead people are so unreliable. Turns out the cadaver used to put Rashad Evans' knee back together has quit without notice, forcing the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight ki read news >>