by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
At Ultimate Fighting Championship 78, Rashad Evans made his main event debut against Michael Bisping pulling out a split decision victory in a fight that tested the will power of the Michigan native to stay strong despite his body seemingly working against him.
“I didn’t take care of my weight the way I should have,” said Evans about his performance against Bisping. “I didn’t really take care of business on that end. It definitely had a big effect on me, but I hate to say that cause it makes it seem like I’m making excuses. I don’t want to take any credit away from the fact that he came out and fought a great fight.”
Evans weighed in at 206 pounds before the bout and didn’t eat much the day of the fight, which seemed to drain his strength in the second and third rounds.
While the battle of “The Ultimate Fighter” winners didn’t steal the show, Evans looked dominant in victory despite the ultimate verdict, which handed him a split decision win.
“I was shocked,” he said about the split decision. “Whenever you leave it in the hands of the judges anything can happen.”
The fight with Bisping came on just five weeks notice, but Evans still worked hard during his camp and complimented the British fighter’s great performance in the bout.
“When you have a short camp you just have to make the best out of it,” he stated.
“I had an opponent across from me and he was really hungry. He was on me, his corner was telling him that I was tired and I could see him turning up the pace a little bit and I was like this is the point where I need to sink or swim right now.”
Unlike the time prior to his match-up with Bisping in which he was taking time off, Evans says now there will be little down time between his fights.
“I’m not going to stop training. I’m not going to make that mistake again and wait for a date to be called for me to start training for a fight,” said the Greg Jackson-trained fighter. “I’m going to maintain great conditioning. I’m not going to get caught on my heels again.”
With the victory over Bisping in hand, Evans is already looking forward to the next challenge and he wouldn’t mind a chance to compete against yet another “Ultimate Fighter” winner, Forrest Griffin.
“Forrest would be a great fight cause he’s out there doing his thing and he’s constantly proving himself and he’s constantly upping the standards of what an ‘Ultimate Fighter’ champion should do,” stated Evans. “That’s definitely a fight that would be interesting to me.”
Of course the question of a rematch with Tito Ortiz always comes up when he is looking at future opponents, but he’s moving on if the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” isn’t ready to step up.
“I’ve done all I can do to get that fight to happen,” said Evans about the match-up with Ortiz. “Tito’s out there and he’s doing what he needs to do, securing his future and I can’t really hate on him for that. He’s out there trying to make a living.
“When it comes to the fight game, if he ever chooses to come back or decides he wants to be a fighter again, I’d love to take that fight.”
As 2007 comes to a close, Evans is also hopeful that 2008 will lead him to a chance at the UFC light heavyweight title.
“That’s the ultimate goal,” he said about a shot at the title. “I just hope I get that call.”