Late into his career (he’s been with the UFC since 2005) Rashad Evans seems to have become a fighter that many fans have begun to wonder about. The question they ponder is this, has he lost the desire?
Most of the concern seems to emanate from his last performance and loss against Little Nog. It might be compounded further, by the 1 year layoff between his bouts with Jon Jones and Nogueira in April 2012 and February 2013, respectively. Factor in his loss to Jon Jones and what the fans don’t ponder about, but see, is a talented fighter who hasn’t racked up a win nearly 18 months. That’s a long time in MMA.
The biggest knock on Rashad coming off his defeat by Rogerio is that he seemed to have “phoned-in”, what appeared to be a sparring match performance. As a fan I know that when I watched the fight (live) I kept waiting for him to take control of the fight, yet he never did.
To ensure that my feelings and remembrances of the fight were accurate, at least for me, I went back and viewed the fight again. Having done so and with the bout refreshed in my mind, I hold the same opinion that I did the night of the fight. I felt that Suga had won rounds 1 and 2 and I gave round 3 to Minotauro.
With that said and although I felt that he had won the fight, I similarly felt that he had lost the performance. That sentiment was subsequently borne out by the judges’ scorecard. As a fan, what was going through my head (that night) and hence my disappointment in his outing, were his two previous fights; Davis and Jones.
If you’re an Evans fan those were great fights.
He absolutely owned and schooled Phil Davis. I was amazed at how Suga blew Mr. Wonderful out of the water. I remember watching Phil walk into the ring and thinking to myself…man, he’s huge! I thought Evans was either going to get owned or was going to struggle to eke out a decision victory.
Instead, Suga went out there and taught Davis a thing or two about wrestling and in particular, MMA wrestling. It was an awe-inspiring performance. It was one of those nights where and as a fan of the sport, I was proud to be a fan of the fighter.
Regarding Rashad’s fight with Jones and to me as a fan, it was similar to Jon Fitch’s fight with GSP. It was epic. Yes, he took a beating and a loss…but what a beating and what loss.
It’s a similar circumstance as with Sonnen / Silva 1. Yes, Sonnen took the loss, but what a loss. Regardless of which side of the victory either man stands on, both men should be eminently proud of that fight. Both should have it playing in a constant loop on a monitor in any gym they may ever own and with a big sign over it that reads… This is the greatest fight and comeback victory in UFC history. Woe unto any-and-all in “my club” and under “my tutelage” who does not learn, appreciate and accept its lessons.
Using that as a benchmark, I feel the same way about Rashad’s performance vs. Jones. Yes, it was a loss…but what a loss and every great fighter has at least one. Even the legendary Anderson Silva has one (Ryo Chonan, 2004).
My guy (and don’t we all have a guy) didn’t quit and he wasn’t put out of the fight decisively. Even more importantly, he stood his ground against one of the (2) greatest fighters the sport has ever known. My guy, your guy, anybody’s guy…shouldn’t we be proud of it? That’s a man, man.
What Evans did in that fight and I’d state this as a fan of any fighter, is the following… he took a loss in a fight, as did Fitch, as did Sonnen, but he did it in such a manner as to be written into the annals of fighting history and along and with the likes of such legendary fighters as Micky Ward and George Chuvalo.
In his loss to Jones Suga actually won MMA immortality. Although dominated he was indomitable. Where he took the beating he didn’t take the stoppage and when Jon’s career is said and done, Rashad’s loss will stand-out.
All of that said and however, should we consider and A / B Rashad’s fights against Davis and Jones vs. his clash with Nogueira, one can easily see how the fans might postulate as to the question of his desire and how that question might fester in the minds of both his supporters and detractors. Taking that into consideration it's easy to understand how all might muse about which Suga is going to show up in Winnipeg, come Saturday night.
For truly, of all the chatter and talk (that I’ve read and heard) by both fans and media regarding this fight, all of it has been about which Rashad will attend the show. Will it be Suga “the warrior” or the Evans the “sparring partner”?
On Saturday night, when Dan Henderson takes to the Octagon against Rashad Evans we will have our answer. My hope is that Dan takes his fight with Suga, because that would be an epic bout. Win or lose for either. If, however, Hendo doesn’t take his fight with Suga then my guess is that Evans might get “Minotauro-ed” at best and “Bisping-ed” at worst.
I can only speak for myself on this matter, but I prefer my Rashad Evans fights with Suga.
I wish the best of luck to both. I think both are incredible fighters, athletes and human beings. Let the best man win; Suga or no Suga.