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Rashad Evans Can Silence his Critics at UFC 98

On the surface, “Sugar” Rashad Evans has it all. He’s 13-0-1. He holds notable wins over MMA headliners Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Chuck Liddell and Michael Bisping. He’s the current light heavyweight champion of the world. He’s currently No. 7 in Five Ounces of Pain’s pound-for-pound rankings. But despite all of that, Evans still has his critics.

A big thing going against Evans is a lot of people simply don’t like him. He’s a cocky, young black man and while we have come a long way in our society, white America still doesn’t like to see a black man grab his junk seconds after he knocks out one of its heroes.

I hate to turn it into a black and white issue but if Evans did the same gesture after knocking out Quinton Jackson instead of Chuck Liddell, we wouldn’t be having this same conversation right now. Hey, it is what it is.

And while I am a Rashad fan, I understand why people may not like him. He does have the cocky personality that can rub some people the wrong way. Personally, I think he’s funny and one of the few fighters with an actual personality but I can see where others may think he takes things too far. Too each his own.

But talking in the cage, I hear people making a lot of excuses to not give Evans his due. Liddell was old and washed up. Well, my argument would be Liddell wasn’t considered washed up until Evans knocked him out cold.

Before that fight, Liddell defeated Wanderlei Silva and was considered by some to be “rejuvenated”. It was Evans who essentially retired “The Iceman” for good. Either way, Evans did what he was supposed to do: he won in impressive fashion, so why penalize him for that?

It just seems to me that even though Evans is undefeated and has a resume as strong as any fighter in the division, there is a perception out there by some that his record is inflated and he’s gotten lucky in some of his fights.

A win against Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 and that will all go away. Like him or not, Evans will have earned the respect of every fight fan in the world by beating a guy in Machida – who has yet to lose a round in the UFC coming into this bout.

When looking at a fight, I try to be as objective as possible. The only people I found who can be truly 100 percent objective are the ones who live in Las Vegas and set the betting the lines.

To show you just how much Evans still has to prove, he is a +190 underdog, despite coming into the fight as the unbeaten champion. That scenario is almost unheard of, so that shows you the kind of respect Evans is getting coming into this fight from the betting public.

There are a lot of people who are rooting for Rashad Evans to lose on Saturday night. There are a lot of people waiting to say he was overrated. But if the light heavyweight champion disposes of yet another big name UFC fighter, there better be a lot of people ready to give Evans his due. He will have earned it.

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