In between UFC 156 and his dominant performance against “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,”Tito Ortiz, at UFC 133, we would have written that the future for Rashad Evans would include a spot as the top light-heavyweight fighter competing in the octagon, outside of the young whippersnapper holding the belt.
So, when he out-wrestled the former Division I champ out of Penn State, Phil Davis, we all knew he had one and only one test left. Jon Jones.
The battle that occurred was one of technical precision and long-developed patience displayed by both athletes ending in a judge’s decision for the champ. Even with the loss, there was only one direction for Rashad.
And so, when he was matched up with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira for his next fight, the fan boys all assumed nothing short of destruction and another chance for “Suga” to start the sixth round against Jones.
But boy, were we all wrong.
With Rashad doing nothing at all worthy of the win, the decision was given to Nogueira. And we were on to the next fight.
It was that insignificant.
It was as if we had just watched what was left of some sparring footage from the Countdown UFC broadcast the night before.
A part of me wants to say that it was the patience of Rashad that was his undoing; patience that seemed a game-plan, but soon devolved into something else entirely.
But watching the fight I found myself almost as relaxed as Rashad was as he caught every jab that "Lil Nog" threw just like a another day at the gym.
Mulling over the judge’s decision, which I believe no one disagreed with considering Evans’ abilities and what he should have been able to do, the memory of his title fight with Lyoto Machida came to the forefront of my mind, as well as his fight with Jon Jones. And one concept seemed to keep coming up.
Inability to let his hands go.
As an athlete that’s the worst feeling in the world.
Everyone who has seen Rashad’s highlight reel can conclude on at least one thing. His hands are fast. But we saw none of that Saturday night.
That seems to be the reoccurring story with Rashad. Two title fights and his latest comeback fight have developed into shattered opportunities due to a mental block.
Plus, if you think about it, he’s lost two in a row and that’s never good with Dana White as your boss.
And if that’s frustrating for a fan to see how much more debilitating is it for Rashad Evans himself? And how much harder will it be for Rashad to tell himself to let it loose in his next fight when he knows that if he loses he could risk getting cut?
All we can do is sit and wait for Rashad’s next opportunity and hope he can overcome whatever it is that hinders him from reaching the long lost title of UFC Champion.
The road back to the crown is always plagued with doubt and the difficult task of moving forward, but hopefully Evans can find guidance moving forward. In the words of T.H. White:
“We cannot build the future by avenging the past.”