COMMENTARY | For a guy who didn't taste defeat until his 15th fight as a professional mixed martial arts fighter, Rashad "Suga" Evans has had his share of hard times lately.
For the first time in his MMA career, Evans is coming off consecutive losses, and there are some who even think "The Ultimate Fighter" season two alumni's best days are behind him.
That's probably because of the lackluster performance he had during his last outing, when he squared up against Antônio Rogério "Little Nog" Nogueira at UFC 156. Rashad had arguably his worst performance to date in the UFC, barely landing any strikes, completing only one of his five takedown attempts.
The result: a unanimous decision victory for Nogueira.
The lackluster performance ended lucrative offers that were on the horizon for Evans, like potentially dropping down to the middleweight division to challenge current champion Anderson Silva for his belt.
Fortunately for Evans, he'll get a chance to redeem himself when he headlines the UFC 161 fight card with Dan "Hendo" Henderson on June 15, at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Canada.
"I had a chance to compete against some of the best mixed martial artists of all-time: Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, [Lyoto] Machida, [Quinton] Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz, Jon Jones, now Dan Henderson," Evans said during a UFC 161 promo. "I'm excited about the opportunity to fight Dan Henderson. He's definitely on the top of that list of some of the best and some of the hall of famers I've competed against."
Rashad understands his reluctance to engage during his bout against Nogueira played a role in how the Octagon-side judges scored their clash, so he plans to be a lot more aggressive when he squares up against Henderson.
"I know what I need to do to get the results that I want to get," Evans added. "Takedown, ground-n-pound, roll up our sleeves and get dirty, go to work. I'm gonna try to get fifty takedowns this fight. Fifty! If I get him down on the ground, I want to ground-n-pound him till he's done."
Like Rashad, Henderson is also coming off a loss (to Machida), so the Pride FC veteran will also look to make a strong statement at UFC 161. Hendo's wrestling just might be good enough to force a standup battle, and we all know that he has more than enough power to put anyone to sleep if he connects with his right hand.
Rashad obviously doesn't need anyone to remind him about Henderson's power.
"Dan's right hand is very dangerous, he knocks everybody out hard. He just knocks them the hell out and they sleep for a long time," Evans said. "I'm not going to go in there and stand in front of him and try bang it out and hope to God I don't get hit with that big right hand. I'm going to be smart. He's gonna want to knock me out. It's not gonna happen. He's not knocking me out."
While some might be ready to close the curtain on Evan's UFC career, Suga insists he still has a lot left in his tank. Becoming a world champion once again remains his primary goal.
"I'm not going anywhere. I may have stumbled a little bit, fell down, but I get back up, dust myself off," Evans concluded. "I'm a top competitor. I deserve a chance to fight for the belt."
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