Rashad Evans had been waiting a long time for another shot at the UFC light heavyweight title after having had to withdraw from a fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in March. Scheduled to take on former teammate and current champion Jon Jones later this year for the belt, that fight was scrapped when an injury sidelined Jones.
But the time off has been too much for Evans to sit back and wait again. So now he is set to face former NCAA champion wrestler Phil Davis at UFC 133, currently rumored to take place on Aug. 6 in Philadelphia.
UFC president Dana White has said several times over the past year that he thought Evans’ original plan to sit and wait for then champion Maurcio “Shogun” Rua was a mistake after an injury forced the fight to be pushed back until the beginning of 2011.
Now, Evans is tired of waiting and will take the fight with Davis because he’s ready to go back in the Octagon and get to work.
“I haven’t talked to him since (the fight was made), but I like Rashad. Rashad is a good guy and I just think he’s made some bad decisions in the last year and a half,” White said on Wednesday.
“Rashad’s ready to fight. Rashad wants to fight.”
By taking the fight with the young upstart Davis, Evans is risking his shot at the title. A loss would certainly derail that opportunity. Still, as White has always stated, he believes fighters should stay active and fight whoever is in front of them because, title or no title, they’d end up fighting anyways.
“You get in these positions, look at (Junior) Dos Santos… Dos Santos was next in line for the title, there’s an injury, he jumps out and he fights Brock Lesnar. He could lose and lose that spot. If Rashad lost, yeah, Rashad could lose the spot to (Davis),” White commented.
“The last thing I want to do is start another huge fight with Rashad Evans, but who was right and who was wrong? He sat out and missed opportunities and so now you’re back in line. Then a guy gets hurt, a guy gets hurt, it keeps happening. You don’t know. When you get an opportunity in this business you jump on it and you take it.”
At this point, however, Evans is ready to stake his claim in the division. With champion Jon Jones sidelined, waiting for thumb surgery that could put him out until nearly the end of the year, his time on the sidelines is over.
For Phil Davis, this will be the second fight in a row where he’s stepped up when the UFC has asked him, and taken on a Top 10 ranked fighter. The last time around, Davis fought and defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
This time, Davis will face the former light heavyweight champion, who is hoping to once again fight for that belt in 2011. While a win doesn’t guarantee Davis the same title shot that Evans would receive, White believes it will put the former Penn State All-American right in the thick of things at 205 pounds.
“It’s huge upside for Phil,” White said. “He’s a young upcoming guy anyway. We’ll see what happens. He’s in the mix.”
The fight between Evans and Davis will go down at UFC 133 in August.