Rashad Evans is expected to undergo knee surgery this week and subsequently miss six months of active training.
Evans' injury, the exact nature of which is not being disclosed, caused the former light heavyweight champ to withdraw last week from his much-anticipated bout with Daniel Cormier at Saturday's UFC 170.
"After consulting with his doctors, Rashad will undergo surgery this week...in Los Angeles, California," read a statement released by the Blackzilians, Evans' training team (h/t MMAJunkie.com's Steven Marrocco). "Rashad’s medical team expects him to be out of active training for 6 months."
This is the first time an official timeframe has been released by Evans' camp. UFC President Dana White previously said Evans would be out for "a while." Evans' manager, Glenn Robinson, attributed the injury to a "freak" occurrence in training camp.
The Blackzilians team released the statement on its website and through its official Twitter account.
Blackzilians (@blackzilians) February 18, 2014
It is unclear what the future might hold for Evans, still regarded as one of the top light heavyweights in MMA. For his own part, Evans said in the statement that he planned to "be back stronger than ever."
The 34-year-old Evans (21-3-1) was set to fight Cormier (13-0) in Saturday night's co-main event. However, the news came last week that Evans had been hurt. While it initially appeared the fight might be scrapped entirely, the UFC soon announced that relative unknown Patrick Cummins (4-0) would take the fight. The fight will double as Cummins' UFC debut.
Do you think Rashad Evans can still be an elite light heavyweight?
The bout also marks the light heavyweight debut for Cormier, a former Olympic wrestler who has made a very successful transition to MMA. He is widely expected to easily defeat Cummins.
Cormier was also favored to beat Evans, though that fight was expected to be much closer.
Evans captured the UFC light heavyweight belt in 2008 with a knockout defeat of Forrest Griffin at UFC 92. In his first attempt to defend the title, Evans himself was knocked out by Lyoto Machida and lost the belt.
After losing to Machida, Evans went on to coach opposite Quinton Jackson on The Ultimate Fighter, and then defeated Jackson in a 2009 grudge match. The Jackson victory was part of a four-fight win streak that saw Evans become a top contender once more.
Evans fought for the belt again in 2012, losing by decision to current champ Jon Jones.
Scott Harris writes about MMA for Bleacher Report. Follow Scott on Twitter.