by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Fresh off the announcement that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had to drop out of his fight with Chuck Liddell at UFC 85 due to a recurring knee injury, Rashad Evans got the call to step in as a replacement. There was no hesitation in his mind about accepting the fight.
“With Shogun being out, Dana White gave me a call and he asked me if I wanted the opportunity to fight Chuck,” recounted Evans in an interview with MMAWeekly.com, “And I’m like, ‘yeah!’”
Coming off of a tough three-round fight with Michael Bisping in November, Evans is ready to head into his training camp. With the fight not happening until June, he will have ample time to get ready for Liddell.
“It’s definitely going to give me enough time to prepare for it,” he stated about the timing of the fight.
Since winning the heavyweight division of second season of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, Evans has stayed busy, and undefeated, pulling off victories over fighters such as Jason Lambert, Stephan Bonnar and Bisping.
Now he will face possibly his greatest challenge to date and a legend in the sport in former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Evans. “Chuck Liddell’s been a dominant force in the weight class for the last several years. He’s a huge icon in the sport, and a really good fighter. It’s going to be fun and a great challenge.”
Over the last few years, Liddell has garnered a reputation for pummeling wrestlers who step into the Octagon with him. The list includes Renato “Babalu” Sobral twice, Tito Ortiz twice, and Randy Couture twice.
But Evans feels he can learn from those fighters’ past mistakes and come out on top.
“I think my style is different than what he’s faced before, but they will give you those little pointers where you can look back and see what they did wrong,” he said about reviewing Liddell’s past fights.
Coach Greg Jackson and a slew of top fighters, including Keith Jardine, who along with Jackson came up with the perfect game plan to chop Liddell down during their fight in September 2007, will head Evans’ training camp.
“I have a great team, they’ll put together a great game plan with what they see in Chuck’s weak points,” he commented. “I’m sure I’m going to have a great game plan going into fight night.”
Now Evans will ready himself to head back to New Mexico and work alongside his teammates at Jackson’s gym and prepare for the June showdown at the O2 Arena in London.