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

Rashad Evans Faces Daniel Kelly at UFC 209 | MMAWeekly.com

  • 11 days ago
  • 13 views

Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will make his middleweight debut at UFC 209 against Australia's Daniel Kelly UFC officials announced on Tuesday. read news >>

Alan Jouban not afraid of Gunnar Nelson's grappling at UFC Fight Night 107, but favoring percentages

  • 3 days ago
  • 9 views

Alan Jouban isn’t looking at his UFC Fight Night 107 bout with Gunnar Nelson as a striker vs. grappler affair. However, he knows his chances of winning improve drastically if he can stay off the mat. read news >>

Stream or download MMAjunkie Radio #2389 with Frank Mir and Richard Hunter

  • 3 days ago
  • 1 views

Stream or download Tuesday’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio with guests Frank Mir and Richard Hunter.Filed under: News, Radio, UFC read news >>

Cindy Dandois signs with UFC, meets Alexis Davis at UFC Fight Night 108 in Nashville

  • 3 days ago
  • 62 views

The UFC has a new women’s bantamweight on its roster, and she’ll make her promotional debut in April. Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Gregor Gillespie vs. Andrew Holbrook booked for UFC 210 in Buffalo

  • 3 days ago
  • 1 views

Another of New York’s native sons is headed for a fight in his home state this spring. Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal continues to call out Neil Magny because he wants to 'break his face'

  • 3 days ago
  • 15 views

Since the day after his upset of Donald Cerrone at UFC on FOX 23 in January, Jorge Mavidal has been naming Neil Magny as someone he’d like to fight next. Nearly a month later, nothing has changed.Fil read news >>

UFC Inks Invicta Vet Cindy Dandois for Nashville Fight Card | MMAWeekly.com

  • 3 days ago
  • 5 views

The UFC has added another intriguing female fighter to the fold with Wednesday's announced signing of Invicta FC veteran Cindy Dandois. read news >>

UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa targeting April return against ex-champ Eddie Alvarez

  • 3 days ago
  • 3 views

HALIFAX – After more than 10 months on the sidelines due to injury Michael Chiesa is ready to insert himself back in the lightweight mix.Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

'Part Reptile: UFC, MMA and Me': Dan Hardy chronicles his life and fighting life in new autobiography

  • 3 days ago
  • 10 views

Check out an excerpt from Dan Hardy’s soon-to-be-released autobiography, “Part Reptile: UFC, MMA and Me.”Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Sergio Pettis taking his time before challenging UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson

  • 3 days ago
  • 11 views

HALIFAX – The UFC has a history of throwing contenders at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson before many beleived they were ready to face the pound-for-pound king. Sergio Pettis doesn’t want t read news >>