While he may have retired three years ago, the love of fighting never left Rashad Evans.
Make no mistake, Evans is living comfortably in retirement. He’s made a seamless transition to the analyst desk at ESPN and Fox, and has moved on to coaching such fighters as Greg Hardy. But still, that desire to step into the ring again remained, and as Evans told MMA Fighting, he believes that the time off will have served him well once he competes again.
“What needed to happen was I needed to let some of the dust settle,” Evans explained. “I was still having a lot of residual non-clarity on what was driving my impetus to want to fight. Because it’s one thing to want to fight because I miss the sport and everything else like that. It’s another thing to want to fight because I have that hunger and that desire, that same kind of mindset that led me to become champion. There’s a difference.
“Because there’s work that you can put behind it,” he continued. “When I’m competing for the latter, or when I’m training for the latter, when my mindset is on, I enjoy doing it so I enjoy the grind of it, then I don’t mind doing the grunt work. Grunt work is where you grow. If I’m just doing barely enough to cover the practices to say I’m in shape, then I’m not going to reach that upper echelon of skill set that I have. I need to be able to drive that extra percentile out of myself and the best way to do that is just mentally being dialed in and mentally wanting to fight for the right reasons.”
With the world seemingly coming to a halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, it gave Evans time to reflect on his career and whether he would ever fight again. Though he knows his days as a title contender have come and gone, he believes there are still a number of fights out there that offer different opportunites.
“I know my fighting days are behind me for the large part, but I would just love to go out there and put the gloves on a few more times just to enjoy myself and really end the sport the way that I want to end the sport,” Evans said.
“I felt as if my last few fights I was competing, I was there, but I really wasn’t there to compete. I was just going through the motions. If I can have a few more fights where I just go in there and just fight from my heart, then I can die a happy man.”
Throughout his career, Rashad Evans was known for his combination of wrestling and boxing. It’s that latter skill that he is hoping to capitalize on late in his career, especially after seeing YouTube celebrities like the Paul brothers rise to prominence in the sport. While he was initially skeptical of the inexperienced brothers making the leap to the boxing realm, he admits he is impressed with what he’s seen.
“I’m going to be honest, at first I thought these guys were going to go in there and not take the sport serious and just clown around and just do what they do, be a prankster about it,” Evans said. “But they took it serious. They actually look like athletes. They look pretty good. Jake Paul looked pretty tough to be honest. Logan looked pretty decent in his last fight, too. They’re showing like they’ve got a lot of potential and I really like what they’re doing by fighting guys who are fighters but at the same time aren’t boxing guys and it gives them a chance to have somewhat a chance in the fight. It makes it interesting.”
With Jake Paul already scheduled to face Tyron Woodley, Evans wants to throw his hat into the ring to fight the older, bigger Paul brother.
“I think I am the fight for Logan Paul,” Evans said. “If Logan Paul is serious about fighting then he’ll fight me. If he wants to play around he can fight somebody else. But if he really wants to fight, he wants to really grow himself, then he’ll fight me.”
“Let’s see what he’s really about. I think his next fight has to be what he’s about. It can’t just be about surviving. He’s really got to go out there and try to put it on somebody. He doesn’t want to keep fighting all these guys, all these legit boxers who’s got all these skills. He might as well try his hand with me.”
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