White Believes Evans Lost Focus
There's not a fan in the world who wouldn't agree that former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was noticeably off his game last Saturday night at UFC 156. Rashad was a heavy favorite going into his fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, primarily because most expected Evans to utilize his significant wrestling advantage to repeatedly take his opponent down and smother him on the ground for the majority of the bout.
Instead, Evans shot for a minimal amount of take downs and chose to trade strikes with Noguiera, even after he quickly learned that knocking out or just out-pointing him would be no easy feat. For the first time in his career, Rashad Evans was defeated by a mid-tier fighter.
Anyone who watched that fight is still wondering what prevented Rashad from exuding any sort of formidable offense over a competitor he was supposed to completely dominate. UFC President Dana White, however, believes he might have answer as to the real reason why Evans lost that fight. He gave his opinion of Rashad's performance in a quick interview following the UFC 156 post-fight press conference (via MMAfighting.com):
"I like Rashad a lot. He's a good guy, a smart guy. But he's lost that hunger. He's lost that desire and drive, and he needs to get it back. There's no doubt about it. He needs to get hungry again. Back in the day, he used to get a little paranoid. He was always a little paranoid. But he would always do the right thing. He needs to get that fire back. He doesn't have that fire. He needs to get it. Rashad used to train like a beast. Rashad never used to get tired. The only time you saw Rashad get tired was when he first came into the UFC and fought Tito (Ortiz) in that first fight. Then after that he turned into an absolute beast. He's gotta get it back. If that word (retired) even comes out of your mouth in this business, it's a negative. It's bad. The fact that he even said the 'R' word shows you where his head is at and what he's thinking."
White definitely has a point when it comes to Evans' focus and conditioning. Rashad probably knew that some aggressive take downs and flurries were his true keys to victory, yet it did seem that he did not possess the energy or will to initiate these attacks past the midway point of the fight.
There's also a good chance that Rashad simply didn't expect Nogueira to have so much success defending his take downs and tagging him with straight punches. Whatever the reason may be, there is no doubt that this fight taught Rashad that his wrestling and striking expertise are hardly efficient without the conditioning and undying determination that brought him to the top of the division in the first place.
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