After a disappointing effort against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira last February, questions started to surface surrounding UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans’ passion for pugilism. And, to hear the former champion speak about it, the criticism may have been well-placed. However, while Evans is willing to admit he did not live up to his own standards in the scrap, he has offered up assurance the same won’t be true when he faces Dan Henderson in a couple of weeks at UFC 161.
“In my last fight, especially, I’ve never felt so calm and relaxed, and I just could not find that switch to be like, ‘All right – I’m about to tear this dude.’ I couldn’t find that switch. I couldn’t find it. That’s one of the things I had to go back and look at to see what happened. Why wasn’t I able to find that when I wanted to? I’ve got a lot of issues that allow me to always tap into that feeling of rage, and I wasn’t able to tap into anything,” explained Evans in a recent interview with MMAJunkie. “If you’re in shape and know how to fight, you have to put it together on fight night. But I didn’t put it together and I didn’t have the right mindset to go in there and compete. You’ve just got to be ready to fight. Throw technique and all that aside – it’s a fight. When you forget to make it a fight, you’re already losing a big advantage.”
This time around, Evans has abandoned any notions of a future title-fight and instead tapped into the same forces motivating him at the start of his career.
“Honestly, I just want to go out there and fight and love fighting. When you fight from that place, it brings me back to when I first started fighting. I would go and fight in these tournaments and get paid $500 to fight three guys, and I didn’t care. It was all because I liked to fight and it was fun. When you start to make it all about a title and all that stuff, it gets to the point where you feel like if you’re not fighting for a belt or a chance to fight for the belt, it’s not really worth it,” he admitted. “But you know what? It’s time to make fighting just about fighting. If you go out there and fight hard enough and put enough work in, you’re going to get a title shot. So I’m just going to let it take care of itself. I’m 33 years old, I’m still young in the sport, and I’m just going to do me and have fun in the sport. I’m not tired of fighting – I want to fight.”
Evans’ loss to Nogueira dropped his record down to 17-3-1. Prior to the stumble he’d gone 4-1 in his five previous fights with the only stumble coming to champion Jon Jones.