4 Reasons to Root for Rashad Evans at UFC 156

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2013

4 Reasons to Root for Rashad Evans at UFC 156

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    Rashad Evans returns to the Octagon for the first time since dropping his bid to regain the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Jon Jones last April. He will stand across the cage from Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

    The two highly ranked light heavyweights will meet in the evening's co-main event.

    It is yet another long layoff for the former champion. Thankfully for him, he has experience fighting after a long time away from competitive action.

    Evans will have a tall task ahead of him on Saturday night. Nogueira is a tough, durable veteran who has good boxing and even better jiu-jitsu. If Evans wants to pick up the win, he will need to be on top of his game.

    Here are four reasons you should cheer on Evans as he tries to get back in the title picture.

He Is Likable

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    At one point in his career, Evans was seen as a non-finisher, and fans resented him for that. Some of those MMA fans still dislike him, but he has proved to be an exciting fighter for many years.

    However, for whatever you may not like about his game inside the cage it is hard not to like the individual.

    He is charming.

    Evans flashes that bright smile, cracks jokes, does an impression of his mother, is an excellent analyst and much more. He just seems like a guy's guy and someone you would want to hang around. That is always a reason to wish someone well inside the cage.

    "Suga" is a great personality, and the more we get to see him succeed, the better.

Evans Is More Dynamic Than Nogueira

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    Nogueira is an excellent fighter. His boxing is on point, and his ground game is a thing of beauty. However, he lacks the athleticism that Evans brings in to the cage.

    Evans' explosiveness always puts you on the edge of your seat. At any given moment he can knock you out, or change levels for a stunning takedown.

    Nogueira simply does not have that level of excitement surrounding him. You may enjoy his ground work, but Evans gives you something special. He is a more dynamic athlete, and that is what fans love to see.

    MMA has evolved. Athletes have taken the sport, and Evans was one of the first to evolve into a complete mixed martial artist in this new era.

Evans Is One of the Best Ever

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    Evans will go down in the history books as one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time. His record speaks for himself.

    His entire career has been proving doubters wrong. He was the underdog during the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, but prevailed in the long run. And he entered most of the following fights as an underdog, but he found ways to win.

    The former UFC light heavyweight champion is underrated in the history of the division, and is one of the best to ever compete at 205 pounds.

    We are lucky to be watching greatness. Evans is an elite fighter, and he will try to continue adding to his legacy against Nogueira.

Evans Is a More Compelling Sell

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    There is nothing wrong with Nogueira, but he does not sell fights. Evans does.

    Evans has the ability to sell fights on the mic, and then back it up with his skills. A trait few have in the sport.

    Go back to his meetings against Chuck Liddell, Rampage Jackson and Jon Jones. It was Evans who elevated the status of those fights with his words. He tells a story leading up to the fight that gets fans interested in watching the action.

    And Jon Jones would gladly grant him a rematch in order to finish him.

    In spite of the one-sided title fight, there would be a compelling story between these two in a rematch. And if Jones wants to try and finish him, I think a lot of people would buy the pay-per-view to see just how he plans on doing that.