With his second straight setback now official, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has a plethora of avenues that may extend before him—perhaps across two weight classes.
His loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was an uninspired performance, and now Dana White and Joe Silva have to match him up in some creative ways.
Some names that might appeal to him could include:
A fight that was supposed to happen all the way back at UFC 128, this one makes sense in a lot of ways. They're both guys who may be on the last legs of a potential run to the title, they're a solid stylistic clash and their cancelled bout was the catalyst to the end of the Jon Jones-Evans friendship.
Rua is without an opponent, and Evans is right there with him in the upper echelon of the division. If he stays at 205, it's a good fight for Suga.
If the UFC is keen on Evans going to middleweight, and it seems it is, perhaps it may make sense to give him a tune-up fight there before working him toward Anderson Silva. Who better than the gritty, gutty, burly Barbarian, Tim Boetsch.
Boetsch is a reformed light heavyweight himself, and he has used his new weight class to fashion out an improbable run to the top of the class on sheer physicality and underrated technicality.
As a "welcome to 185" opponent, he makes a lot of sense.
Evans got where he is today on the springboard of one of the UFC's best "changing of the guard" KOs ever seen. When faced with the legendary Chuck Liddell as an opponent, Evans buckled the former champion in a highlight-reel finish that The Iceman himself had become known for.
Glover Teixeira, a Liddell protege who is as highly touted as any prospect presently strapping on the 4 oz.'ers, just beat former Evans nemesis Quentin Jackson on Fox. He's perhaps a win away from a chance at the title, and many would like to see how he handles a great wrestler before putting him in with Jon Jones.
Despite now losing two in a row, Evans could provide that test, and the symmetry of their histories makes it easy to promote.
Once again, looking at the probability of Rashad Evans the middleweight, there's plenty to complain about if you're Chris Weidman and you get overlooked for a title shot in Evans' stead. Weidman has been competing and winning at 185, while Evans has never fought there and hasn't won a fight in a year.
Who deserves a title shot more, at least based on those measures? Probably Weidman.
That said, if you want an easy way to settle it, put the two in the cage the night that Weidman is ready to return to action and let them decide who's better. Once they meet, whoever comes out on top can claim a shot at the title with little debate.
Realistically, if it's the fight that Evans, Silva and the UFC have wanted, it's the fight that's going to happen. And it sure seems like everyone involved wants it. Records and recent history seem to mean less than ever in the UFC title ranks, so making Evans-Silva now is as viable as ever.
So put Evans in there against the Brazilian and see how he stacks up. There's little question that, aside from his recent slide and the act of actually making the weight, Suga has the pedigree to warrant a shot at the best man to ever enter the cage.
He's a bad matchup for Silva, and the type of big name that will sell pay-per-views and put money in the champ's pocket. Those things appeal to everyone involved in booking it, so it's probably still a likely option even with Evans' UFC 156 setback.