Rashad Evans, Blackzilians forced to re-evaluate approach after poor showing at UFC 156

Yahoo Contributor Network

LAS VEGAS -- Between Rashad Evans and Alistair Overeem, UFC 156 was a bad night to be a Blackzilian.

The Florida-based team's most prominent fighters lost in debilitating fashion Saturday, and what followed was a chorus of criticism from every direction. As always, the most vocal was UFC president Dana White, who had some choice words for the group after the event.

"The Blackzilians did not represent this evening," White said following Saturday night's fights. "Both [Overeem and Evans] looked out of shape … They probably need to re-evaluate some things in their camp."

View gallery

.

Rashad Evans lands a punch on Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday. (AP)



Overeem was ahead on points going into the final round of his matchup with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, but left himself open to numerous strikes before being knocked unconscious for the first time since 2007.

Meanwhile, Evans dropped a decision to Rogerio Nogueira and the former light heavyweight champion caught plenty of flak about his effort as many considered the fight a snoozer.

Nogueira spoke at length of his opponent after the bout, including how he was able to get in Evans' head. "Lil' Nog" broke down where his opponent went wrong, saying Evans' boxing is flawed.

"I frustrated him … and [broke] his mind," Nogueira said following the post-fight press conference. "His game, when he boxes, it doesn't work very well.

"I think he tried, but when my defense [was] very good … he gave up."

Giving up isn't something Evans is familiar with; he hasn't been submitted in his career. So to think "Suga" gave up on Saturday in Las Vegas seems far-fetched.

[Also: 'Big Foot' upsets Alistair Overeem, wins with brutal KO]

White, however, points to the idea that the "TUF" season 2 winner has simply lost the will to compete.

"He has lost that hunger," White said. "He lost that desire and drive, and he needs to get it back. There's no doubt about it. He needs to get hungry again."

Has Evans lost his edge? After UFC 156, some might say yes. Even before the fights there was an indication that he didn't want to do the MMA song-and-dance routine anymore.

Evans stepped away and disassociated himself with MMA for a time before his UFC 156 training camp. The fighter said he closed himself off from fighting, keeping his distance while refocusing.

"For a couple months, I didn't have anything to do with the sport," Evans admitted two days prior to Saturday's pay-per-view. "I wouldn't talk to anybody that wanted to talk about … anything that had to do with fighting. I wanted to just get away from it, just get my mind thinking about something else."

View gallery

.

Rashad Evans goes for a takedown against Rogerio Nogueira on Saturday. (USA Today)

The word "retirement" was tossed around, too. According to White, that's a bad thing for anyone expecting Evans to stay in the fight game. It shows where Evans' head is at, he said.

"If that word even comes out of your mouth in this business, it's a negative," White explained.

[Also: Frankie Edgar comes up short yet again]

At 33 years old, Evans is of the age where stepping away from competing isn't at all unreasonable. But he's still a world-class light heavyweight with loads of talent. One thing is certain: Evans nearly stepped away from the sport -- for whatever reason -- and history has shown that few ever regain their hunger after contemplating that.

White said Evans needs to find his drive, but it's unclear if the veteran will even go looking for it.

"I wanted to just get away from it, just get my mind thinking about something else," Evans said, adding that he's not just a fighter, but "a person, too."

Whether Evans will ever be the same top-tier light heavyweight that only lost once in his first six years in the UFC is anybody's guess.

When coupled with Overeem's poor showing, Evans' loss underlines the Blackzilians' need to go back to the drawing board.

"They got some work to do down there at Blackzilians," White said. "It was a bad night for them."


Erik Fontanez is the assistant editor at GRACIEMAG (Gracie Magazine) and a contributing MMA writer for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @Erik_Fontanez

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Pitt's home dominance over top 10 foes continues against Syracuse
Are the Lakers using Steve Nash correctly?
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira admits he's overpaid
Jose Aldo gets unexpected challenge after his UFC 156 win over Frankie Edgar

View Comments