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Rashad Evans Still Open to Middleweight Opportunities, but Wants to Fight Jon Jones Again

Posted on by Ryan McKinnell

05-Rashad-Evans-UFC145-preFormer UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans got back in the winner’s column by defeating MMA legend Dan Henderson via split-decision at UFC 161 on Saturday night.

In front of a sold-out crowd at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the former Ultimate Fighter Season 2 winner battled the 42-year-old veteran in a three-round contest that saw Evans snap a back-to-back losing streak (the first of his nearly decade-long career).

After his losses to Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, at UFC 145 and UFC 156 respectively, Evans’ career was in a tailspin.  With his win over Henderson, he once again finds himself on the path gold, albeit with some reservations about his performance against the future Hall-of-Famer.

Coming off of two losses, it takes a little bit of a hit on your confidence,” said a contrite Evans at the UFC 161 post-fight press conference. “Trying to work back mentally to get your game where you want to, get your timing down, believing in your shot, believing in your punches, stuff like that, this wasn’t my best performance by far, but it’s something to start from.”

UFC president Dana White mirrored Evans’ sentiments, as he spoke about the importance of the fight.

“(It) was a good night for Rashad because Rashad needed to get his head back in the game physically, mentally, emotionally, everything,” said White.  “Obviously he looked good physically. He’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen him in. (He) came out and fought a tough guy in Dan Henderson.

“Tonight was a good confidence booster for him hopefully and he starts to let his hands go more. Hopefully tonight was a step in the right direction for him.”

In fact, Evans has finished just one opponent (a TKO victory over Tito Ortiz at UFC 133) since defeating Forrest Griffin via TKO for the light heavyweight title in late 2008.

It’s popular opinion that, even in victory, Evans has looked less than stellar since his brief championship run in the late 2000’s. His wins over Thiago Silva, Quinton Jackson, Phil Davis and even Dan Henderson left plenty to be desired, as not one of those fights have stuck in the collective conscious of MMA diehards.

In fairness to the 33-year-old veteran, the fight against Henderson did offer glimpses of greatness.  Evans managed flashes of wicked combination punching and slick head movement, but once again, he was unable to earn a stoppage victory – something that in the heavier ranks of the 205-pound division is expected from time to time.

Whether or not Evans has found his old form is largely irrelevant to the more immediate concern… winning.  With his win over Henderson, Evans now finds himself right back in the discussion for top-level competition.  And for this team “Blackzillian” member, quality fights is what he’s all about.

“There’s a lot of guys coming in new (at light heavyweight),” said Evans. “There’s a lot of guys that are pretty tough, so it doesn’t really matter who I fight next.”

Evans was questioned on Saturday night about a possible move to middleweight, and although that’s not something he rules out, Evans believes he still has unfinished business to take care of at 205 pounds.

“205 is my home. If an opportunity comes at me at 185 and it’s a good opportunity (I’d consider it), but for the most part, I feel good at 205,” proclaimed Evans, right before jumping to the topic of former teammate and current nemesis Jon Jones.

“It’s hard for me to leave the 205 weight class. I would love to get a shot at Jon Jones again,” he stated. “I would love to get back to where I was and where I can be as far as being spectacular every single fight, but the landscaping has changed. It’s tough.

“I’m gonna have to make some adjustments to my game if I’m gonna be dominant.”

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  • George Sperry

    Jon Jones would slaughter him again.

    • WhiteyWhiteman

      Jones didn’t slaughter him the first time…

      • shakejunt

        rashad’s really one of very few people who can say that. who else? maybe like bonnar or andre gusmao?

        • Werdoomb

          Jones wasn’t at his current level when he fought Bonnar. If they fight today, Bonnar would get KTFO.

          Rashad is the only one that ran away from Jones. Deep inside Rashad is happy that he didn’t get slaughtered but only lost via UD.

          • Baller31

            Thanks for the insight into Rashad’s psyche.

          • shakejunt

            we all know rashad was scared, but he was also in jon’s head. he has said it himself that rashad in one of the only rematches he’d be interested in because he was unable to finish him

          • Ian Price

            Just because Anderson TKO’ed bonnar, doesn’t mean Jones could.

      • George Sperry

        50-45, 49-46, 49-46. What round Evans supposedly won is still a mystery to me.
        Evans looked like the Elephant Man after the fight.
        At 1 minute into the 5th rd Jones had a 90 to 46 advantage in significant strikes.
        We all have our own definitions of words but if that wasn’t a slaughter to you than so be it.

        • Werdoomb

          Slaughter meaning what happened to Shogun, Rampage, Lyoto, Belfort, and Sonnen.

          Rashad was playing so defensively..that was the reason why he didn’t get KTFO.

        • WhiteyWhiteman

          Jones won. It was his least impressive victory since being champion. “My defenition” of slaughter would have been to put Evans in the Hospital, by either KO or broken limb. Not eeking out a decision.

          • George Sperry

            I posted the scores, eeking?

      • Ian Price

        Correct! He out pointed him. But rashad will probably go for more takedowns and try to be explosive and KO Jones. That’s what I’d do

        • Ian Price

          Despite any changes to his strategy, he’s still at least a -400 underdog no matter what he does

  • Baller31

    I thought Henderson won. The only thing impressive Rashad did was not get knocked out.

    • FightProfessor

      Rashad won the second and third round

      • Baller31

        It’s subjective, as all close decisions are.

        • Werdoomb

          Umm no…Rashad won the second and third round. The only thing Hendo did was that jab in the first round. Rashad did barely enough to win the second round and then won the third round cleanly.

          subjective subjective subjective..bla bla bla.

          • Baller31

            You do realize just stating your opinion is the definition of subjective. Again, I think Dan won. I also thought he should have gotten the decision against Machida, but you seem like the type that would think Machida deserved a victory there as well.

          • Werdoomb

            Yeah, both fights were close but I wouldn’t be surprised if majority of people out there thought Hendo lost in both fights.

            Both fights were uneventful but Hendo was on the slight losing end in both.

    • Sir_Roy

      Hendo gassed a little and should have pushed harder in the third.

      Close fight. Not one that will overly propel Evans nor should it lead to Hendo retirement talk either. Too bad. I really wanted to see Hendo’s style against Jones. The thrill of knowing a huge favorite is, nonetheless, in the octagon against someone with Hendo’s punching power would have been a significant draw for me.

    • Collideoverme

      I thought Hendo won too. Rd’s 1-2. Again, you can’t leave it too the judges. I want to know though, where is the Hendo that fought Fedor not…2 years ago? Where’s that aggression?

    • Ian Price

      It was like the Hendo-Machida fight. Close as hell

      • Baller31

        Unfortunately, it was a bit like the Machida fight, but a little more exciting at least.

  • Edgar ontano

    i was going for hendo but give props to rashad. i do think hes better than all these lhw other than jones, machida. would love to see him fight tixeira

  • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

    Losing to Nog was a big set back. I’am a big Rashad fan but I don’t know why he’s talking title shot and fighting Jones again when he’s 1-1 since losing to Jones. He needs another two maybe three wins to get a shot again IMO.

    • The Best Eva

      I kind of agree but I think if he fights a top 3 guy and wins they’ll give him a shot.

      • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

        It could happen. I’m hoping Thiago Silva gets himself together, he’s a dangerous fight for anyone. Glover Tex is still up there. I don’t even know what’s next for Rashad.

        • Edgar ontano

          Thiago Silva? Come on he’s exciting and all but he cant beat top 10 guys although he is fighting bader at 165

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            I know, I know, but he’s a dangerous fighter from ATT now with Blackzilians. A few adjustments to his game and he could be in title contention again. A win over Bader will show if he’s improved since working with Rashad and other guys. I’d rather see him against Glover Tex then Bader but it could be a good fight if Silva can keep it on the feet.

          • Edgar ontano

            You got a point, Silva is dangerous with anyone standing.Bader Is another one of those guys that i dont know what to expect. like one day he can beat rammpage and the nezt lose to tito.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Baders striking is getting better. He’s beatable though for sure. He’s young still but his strengths will always be his wrestling and KO power. This will give Silva the momentum he needs coming back if he can finish Bader by KO. Should be a good fight though.

          • Edgar ontano

            Agreed. Machida and Davis who do you got?

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Oh man that’s a tough one. I am a big fan of both. I’ll give the edge to Machida though. But if Davis wins, especially if he wins by finish, he deserves a title shot. He already submitted Gustaf and went the distance with Rashad as his only loss. He’s big and athletic. Who do you got on that fight? Also follow me on Fbook and Twitter.

          • Edgar ontano

            Whats your twitter?. And man i think machida will win because hes the better fighter but i’m rooting for phil davis. If davis can get him on the ground especially early in the round i think he caan finish it the only prob its almost impossible o take out machida.

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Combat Science MA. Couldn’t fit the MMA in the user name lol. It is an interesting fight and it’s very important for both guys. A loss for either one could set them back a bit especially since there’s only like 3 or 4 other guys Jones hasn’t fought yet and he could move to HW after that.

          • Edgar ontano

            Yupp, jones will be descent at HW i honestly dont thinkhe can be a champ

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            I want Jones/Overeem.

          • Edgar ontano

            i want jones/ velasquez

          • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

            Cains wrestling makes that fight very interesting.

        • The Best Eva

          Glover would be great, unfortunately I don’t think Thiago will ever be on top his motivation is questionable every fight.

      • Ian Price

        I think 1 more win and he should fight Jones again. Unless its against a non-top-5 guy. But lets get serious, he probably going to rematch with Machida for the next crack at Jones. either that or Texiera.

        • The Best Eva

          Either fight would kick ass.

  • Baller31

    After losing to Nog in one of the most boring matches in history and then barely decisioning Hendo, Rashad has no business calling out Jones. Do something impressive first. Maybe a rematch with Machida is in order.

    • Sir_Roy

      Agreed.

    • Werdoomb

      Rashad won’t fight Lyoto ever again, he is scared of him.

    • Lucas Freire

      I do agree, but Rashad changed just so much after the Machida KO that I think if they ever fight again he would pee on his pants and become traumatized for the rest of his life. While I see Rashad changing his game in a bad way, I can only see Machida improving his technique.

      • Ian Price

        If I were Rashad, I’d be vocal about rematch with Machida. Face your demons!

  • bajafox

    If the injury plague happens again, he might get a title shot sooner than he expects.

    • Ian Price

      Totally agree. If gustaf gets injured, who’s the default replacement as of today? Shad? Machida? A perfectly good argument can be said for Texiera. And after another fight, for Mousasi.