by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans spoke out for the first time about his loss to Lyoto Machida at a media day for the tenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Evans, who will coach opposite Quinton Jackson, said he accepted the reality show position to move beyond the loss, refusing to wallow.
“I got my ass whooped, so, I was like, you know what, I could sit in the dark and cry myself to sleep every night… or I can do something about it,” he said in a green room of the “TUF” training center. “I think that me losing was probably one of the best things for me just because it helped me see a lot of things clearer.
“But it’s sad that you got to lose consciousness to get awakened. I don’t think that I could just sit back and go through day-to-day life right now and sit back and not doing anything. I have to do something right now to help me get over what happened.”
Evans said the struggles of being champion caught up with him.
“When I had it before, I guess I really didn’t understand what it meant to have the title, even just preparing for the fight,” he said. “I don’t think I really prepared myself for what it was really going to be like or what it really meant to be in that position. Just dealing with the pressures of having everybody just pulling at your time and staying grounded, staying true to yourself, what got you to the belt; I didn’t do any of those things.
“I’m a very, very basic person, and everything just got really, really complicated and it caused a lot of problems.”
Several alarming things happened to him during his preparation for the May 23 bout.
“I felt, weeks before the fight even happened, like I was losing, but there was nothing I could do about it,” he said. “There was times I would storm out of practice, upset, getting my ass kicked in practice. There was nothing I could do about it. I would go to sleep; I would be just so depressed about it because I felt like I was falling and there was nothing I could do.”
When Evans got to the arena, he was resigned to do his best in spite of the less-than-perfect camp. But even in the locker room, the bad feelings persisted.
“I couldn’t even get any sleep before my fight,” he said. “Usually you have that down time before you have to report. And I was trying to sleep, but every time I slept, I lost in my dream. And I never lose in my dreams.”
While Evans didn’t underestimate Machida in camp, the reality of dealing with him caught up quick.
“Not taking anything away from his performance, I think he performed great, but I been thinking like halfway through the first round, I got knocked down and I was embarrassed, man this guy is pretty good,” said Evans. “But that was a realization, this guy is pretty good. Not going into the fight; it was at that moment.”
The knockout, Evans’ first in a 15-fight career, was not what he expected.
“I remember I was getting hit, and I’m like, ‘I’m okay, I’m okay,'” he said. “I get back up to my feet and he’s throwing punches and I’m seeing them come at me. I was like, ‘ah, he doesn’t even hit hard.’ He’s hitting me, and I’m like, ‘man, you hit like a…’ Next thing you know, I’m knocked out. And I’m awake the whole time I’m knocked out. I’m just like, ‘man, I can’t move my body…I think I’m knocked out. I’m snoring. (Expletive) I’m knocked out.’ I’ve never had that happen before.”
The season two winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” holds no one but himself responsible for the result of the fight.
“Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go and whether it was gameplan or execution, whatever the case may be, the result was me getting knocked out,” he said. “You could point the finger and say it was this or that, but the truth of the matter is I wasn’t in the fight, I didn’t come to fight.
“The lesson was learned that needed to be learned and maybe if it was a close fight, I could have fooled myself and say that some of the things weren’t what they were and allow myself to fall into the same trap again. But the way it ended and how embarrassed I was and what a humbling experience that was for me, that right there, that was a big wake-up.”