When Rashad Evans was on the sidelines waiting for then champion Maurcio “Shogun” Rua to get healthy, a lot of people criticized his choice to sit out as opposed to staying active with more fights.
When Evans’ time finally did come for the title shot, he suffered a training injury of his own that pushed him out of the fight with Rua, and delayed his comeback even further.
Rua eventually lost the title to current champion Jon Jones, but when an injury forced Jones to delay his match-up with Evans, the former Michigan State wrestler was done waiting.
Evans took a fight against Tito Ortiz at UFC 133 and after being out of action for more than a year, he came back looking better than ever. Stopping Ortiz with strikes in the second round of their bout, Evans earned yet another shot at the light heavyweight title. Now he waits for UFC 135 and the fight between Jones and challenger Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The biggest difference for Evans this time, however, is that while his goal of regaining the UFC light heavyweight title stays the same, an extended waiting period is something he won’t go through again.
“Rashad’s committed to fighting. If the title shot was a year away, I’m sure Rashad would take another fight. He’s not going to put his career on hold a year, but we don’t anticipate that being the case. I hope that’s not the case. Rashad would like to fight for the title next,” Evans’ manager Glenn Robinson told MMAWeekly Radio.
“But like and reality are always two different things. If the reality is that he can’t, he’ll still go out there and he’ll fight. You stack ‘em up and he’ll knock ‘em down. It don’t matter who the opponent is.”
It was almost like a hungry man getting to eat dinner, because Evans had been out of action for so long. Once he got back in the cage, he satisfied his desire to go out there and prove he was one of the elite athletes at 205 pounds.
Make no mistakes about it, Evans has every intention of sitting cage side for Jones vs. Jackson, and happily challenging the winner as soon as they’re healthy and ready to go.
But extended injuries and time off are just part of the sport, so if it means Evans has to sit out another year to fight the winner from UFC 135, it’s just not something he’s going to do this time around.
“Hopefully, it will be for the title shot and he’ll get his opportunity to reclaim what belongs to him,” Robinson stated. “If some reason the fight is delayed to a point where he has to take another opponent, he’ll take another opponent. The title shot is his first choice, it is his first desire, but more so that anything he wants to fight.”
Rashad Evans definitely wants to be known as champion, but his first priority is to be known as a fighter.
Evans is expected to be in Denver for the light heavyweight title fight between Jon “Bones” Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Sept. 24 at UFC 135.