by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
He is the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion of the world.
He won season two of The Ultimate Fighter reality series.
His professional mixed martial arts record stands at 13-0-1.
His wins include knockouts of former champions Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell and a split decision over fellow Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Bisping.
He trains at one of the most respected fight camps in the world, Greg Jackson’s MMA, alongside top fighters like Georges St. Pierre, Keith Jardine, Nate Marquardt, and Donald Cerrone.
Yet, when Rashad Evans steps into the Octagon at UFC 98 on Saturday night, he will be considered the underdog; an assumption supported by current betting lines, both online and in Las Vegas. It’s not the first time he hasn’t been expected to win, and probably won’t be the last. Either way, it doesn’t really faze the champion.
“I don’t take it personal. Whether they believe I can win or don’t believe I can win it, I mean it really doesn’t matter because it’s not the first time I’ve been the underdog going into a fight,” he said recently. “And I haven’t lost – and I haven’t lost, yet. So it really don’t matter.
“I’m still the underdog going into this fight. So it feels like business as usual.”
The perceptions of Evans as an underdog are somewhat unusual for a fighter that has his resume and is undefeated going into the fight. Of course, Machida is also undefeated, having beaten many top-level fighters himself. And it’s not often that two world-class competitors in mixed martial arts, especially competing for a title, enter the bout undefeated.
“Accomplishing what me and Lyoto have accomplished, it wasn’t an easy task,” said Evans in reference to neither of them having lost a fight. “So I guess there’s some small sort of accomplishment far as being a big deal. But you know, when I go in there and fight, just like Lyoto probably, it don’t matter if I’m undefeated or not. I’m just trying to win that one fight.”
Win the fight is something that no fighter has done with either Evans or Machida, but Evans isn’t troubled by the prospect of trying to be the first to knock Machida down from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“He’s got an interesting style. It’s pretty tricky at times, but I think that anybody going against him is going to have their own way of doing things. And they’re going to have their own style. So it’s just making simple adjustments and it should be all right,” said Evans.
“I’m not going to add any pressure to myself to say it’s going to be this kind of fight or that kind of fight. I’m just going to go out there and fight my best.
“I don’t know how I’m going to approach this fight until probably fight day. You know it depends on how I feel when I come out. Sometimes you go out there and you see opportunities and sometimes you don’t. When you go out there and fight, if you have your mind set on just one thing and you go out there and you don’t see it then it takes you a while to recover. So I like to just react on my feet man. And if I see an opening I’m going to take it. And if I don’t, then I’ll just sit back and chill.”