Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen: What We Learned from UFC 167 Co-Main Event

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2013

USA Today

Two of the greatest heels in MMA history squared off at UFC 167, as "The American Gangster" Chael Sonnen squared off with "Sugar" Rashad Evans.

Rashad Evans holds the record for the most takedowns the UFC's light heavyweight division. Chael Sonnen holds the record for the most takedowns in the UFC's middleweight division.

When they clashed, Evans immediately established dominance en route to a brutal knockout victory. So, what did we learn?


Rashad Evans is Back

I'm a big believer in Rashad Evans. Always have been, always will be.

Unfortunately, we've seen three distinct Rashad Evans over the years. The overconfident striker from 2005 until 2009. The experienced-but-still-hungry veteran from 2010 until 2012. Then "Old Man Evans" in 2013.

That guy that just roughed up Chael Sonnen? That was the hungry veteran. It's great for everyone that he is back and Old Man Evans is dead.


Chael Sonnen Needs to Learn to Take a Punch

I love Chael Sonnen. Don't get me wrong on this.

Chael Sonnen has a good chin. A really good chin. The thing is, that hasn't kept him from taking knockout losses in three of his last four fights.

He hasn't been knocked out, though. He gets hit, quickly goes into a fetal position, waits until the ref waves the fight off and then walks off like nothing happened.

Compare this with Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva 2, when Franklin was rocked to the ground and flailed like a fish out of water until he was (more or less) mentally clear, and you can easily regard this as Sonnen's greatest weakness. Sonnen's a great fighter with a unique skill set and lots of still-open rivalries to cash in on. He won't win many of those fights, though, if he keeps losing like this.


Chael Sonnen May Be Best Suited for the Veteran Circuit

Some fighters know they don't have a shot at the belt anymore. Guys like Cung Le and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, for example, look to have "big fights" rather than "title fights", and there's nothing wrong with that.

Chael Sonnen might be in that sort of position right now. 

His fight with Mauricio "Shogun" Rua fit that bill, and he scored an impressive early victory in that fight. This fight with Rashad Evans, though, didn't, and he lost pretty badly.

His next fight will be against Wanderlei Silva. That is a "big fight." He could follow that up with a fight against somebody like Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or a rematch with Michael Bisping.

You never know what can happen, but that could easily be the best career path for Sonnen at this point. He is still a fun personality, but it's tough to keep that title when you lose in emphatic fashion to hungry contenders.


Rashad Evans Doesn't Have Anybody to Fight

Rashad is back, but too bad there isn't anybody for him to fight.

Glover Teixeira is probably going to hold out for a fight with Jon Jones. Alexander Gustafsson is fighting Jimi Manuwa in March. Evans and Daniel Cormier were two of the original members of "Team Thirsty", so it's tough to call whether or not they'd be willing to fight each other. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is out with a back injury. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua wouldn't move him towards the belt, really. Lyoto Machida is a middleweight, and Gegard Mousasi is following him down to 185 pounds. A rematch with Phil Davis doesn't do anything for him.

I could keep going, too. 

There basically isn't a single fight at light heavyweight that makes sense for him right now. It will be very interesting to see what Joe Silva does with him.