On Saturday night, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans made his much-anticipated return to the cage. It was the first time Evans has competed since a crushing loss to Jon Jones in the main event of UFC 145 last April.
The man who stood across the Octagon from "Suga" was former PRIDE star Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. It was a fight Evans was nearly a 6-to-1 favorite with oddsmakers and the former UFC champion was expected to earn a pick-me-up against a star who has name value, but is competing past his physical prime.
However, all expectations went out the window when a lethargic Evans stepped into the cage. The Blackzilian representative was missing the spring in his step and looked devoid of focus throughout the fight.
Nogueira outboxed Evans en route to a unanimous decision victory that gives Rashad the first losing streak of his career. So where does the Ultimate Fighter winner go from here?
It is important that Rashad next steps into competition against someone who is both ranked and noteworthy. Based on that criteria, we can narrow the options to a trio of candidates.
A power-puncher with tremendous wrestling and a newly-minted submission game, Ryan Bader is looking to establish himself as a legitimate threat at 205 pounds. Considering that he can counter Evans' wrestling or win the fight with a well-timed right hand, it's a great matchup between Ultimate Fighter winners.
As Ric Flair said, to be the man, you've got to beat the man. If Glover Teixeira hopes to get to the top of the light heavyweight food chain, he will need to continue his winning ways against former world champions.
Teixeira is a top prospect in the division and, if Evans can pull off a win against a dangerous foe, he will be propelled back toward the top. On the flip side, if Teixeira is the one who emerges victorious, a new title contender will emerge out of Rashad's unfortunate demise.
Out of sight, out of mind. Sometimes, a highly-anticipated fight can fall to the wayside if Dana White can't deliver it within a certain amount of time.
Such a situation occurred when Evans was forced out of a title fight against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in 2011. Back then, both fighters were atop the UFC light heavyweight division. This summer, they will be fighting for relevance in a division they used to rule.
This fight features two of the most electrifying stars in UFC history. It could headline a UFC on Fox event, or would be a suitable co-main event for any pay-per-view.