by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Sometimes a loss is the best motivation to get a fighter back to what made them great. Such was the case with Rashad Evans, who got so used to knocking opponents out that he left behind his wrestling background in his last few fights.
A title loss to current champion Lyoto Machida woke Evans up. For his fight against Thiago Silva at UFC 108 on Saturday night, he went back to the grappling world, which launched his success in mixed martial arts.
“It was no secret what I was going to do. I’m a wrestler and I said it time and time again before the fight that I was going to get back to my wrestling,” Evans said after his victory. “Sticking to the game plan, even though sometimes I was getting caught, getting a little tired, and I wanted to mix up and throw the hands like I wanted to do, but my corner warned me against that.”
Throwing hands is something that has come natural to Evans since working with coaches like Mike Winklejohn and Trevor Wittman. He felt comfortable trading shots with Silva, who he didn’t believe had the knockout power to put him away.
“I knew he was a pretty good striker, but for the most part I didn’t think he had the power to just knock you out with that one punch power,” Evans commented. “Even though he did catch Keith (Jardine), I didn’t still believe that he had that.”
He may not have believed in Silva’s power before the third round of their main event bout, but Evans started to buy into it as he was wobbled with several big shots that almost ended his night late in the fight. The former Michigan State wrestler did a good job keeping his composure and survived the onslaught to make it out of trouble.
“I was like no, this ain’t going to happen again,” Evans admitted when talking about the hard shot he took in the third. “I was thinking keep your composure, and I was just talking myself through it. Whenever you get rocked with a good shot, what I like to do is I like to just start talking to myself. I’m like okay, okay I just got caught with a good shot, my legs feel a little loose, but I’m just going to tie up until I feel better.”
Back on the winning track, Evans now awaits a possible May 1 showdown against “Ultimate Fighter” coaching rival Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Montreal. The former champion was humble when talking about how he needed to get back on the right path with the win on Saturday.
“Coming in here and fighting and sticking to the game plan and getting a good win over a good solid opponent under my belt tonight was a big step in the right direction for me,” Evans said.
The charismatic fighter will now enjoy a little post holiday time with his family before heading back into camp to help teammates like Keith Jardine, Nate Marquardt, and Georges St-Pierre get ready for upcoming fights.