Did Rashad Evans' Career Just End in Mexico City?

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistAugust 6, 2017

Rashad Evans trades punches with Quinton
Eric Jamison/Associated Press

On a hot summer night in a land far from his home and way above sea level, a once-great champion lost to a divisional afterthought.

He looked tepid and old—the continuation of a trend that's been ongoing for years—despite looking as close to physically perfect as he ever has in his career.

Rashad Evans, the once-great champion, looked done with this whole mixed martial arts racket during his loss to Sam Alvey, the divisional afterthought, at UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno on Saturday.

It all had a sad, almost surreal quality to it. Evans found himself buried on the undercard of an event nobody in their right mind was invested in, one fight away from jerking the curtain for names like Niko Price and Humberto Bandenay.

He looked shot, with trepidation apparent from the get-go as he labored through three rounds against a capable but entirely unspectacular foe. It was his fourth defeat in a row and sixth in eight fights after he lost only once in the previous eight years.

Everything that made Evans a legend was gone: explosiveness, athleticism, unpredictability and ever-underrated in-fight intellect. To anyone who knew what he once was, he looked like a man who had lived a long, hard 37 years on this planet, like fighting in a steel cage on a Saturday night was the last thing he should be doing.

It would almost be insulting to Evans, owner of light heavyweight wins over legends such as Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson and Dan Henderson, if it didn't appear to be his own insistence at continuing a so obviously deleterious MMA career that was keeping him active.

This is a man who was a UFC champion during the sport's greatest boom, a man who was capable of drawing as many eyes and dollars as the best in the business. He's every bit the Hall of Famer contemporaries such as BJ Penn, Matt Hughes and Forrest Griffin are, and he holds convincing wins over almost every big name from his era.

And now he's losing to Alvey on free television? On an event that got less attention than Joe Rogan's interview selections?

Nope. No thanks.

It's time for him to let go of his role as an active athlete and move on to things for which he's better suited.

His experience and aforementioned intellect would position him well to train fighters if he so desired. He ran roughshod over heavyweights to win the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, and he ascended to the top of the light heavyweight class when it was at its best. Learning what was behind those accomplishments would surely be valuable to up-and-coming fighters.

He is fantastic as an analyst on UFC broadcasts and could easily expand that line of work. He's educated, articulate and charismatic and already has working relationships with both Fox and the UFC.

It likely wouldn't take much for him to be a regular at the Fox desk or on Fight Pass going forward, which would be a safer pursuit than dodging headkicks that could lead to long-term health issues in the name of scraping by (or losing to) the Alveys of the world.

For that matter, he could use the same tools that make him a great analyst to jump over into acting. Fellow Fox regulars Tyron Woodley and Michael Bisping have done as much, and both share many of Evans' best traits in front of a camera.

Evans ponders his next move following a loss to Sam Alvey at UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno.
Evans ponders his next move following a loss to Sam Alvey at UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

It's hard to pinpoint what brought Evans to this point, whether it was losing coach Greg Jackson amid a feud with Jon Jones, the continued long delays imposed on him during his 30s and/or age and wear simply caught up to him as they do to every combat athlete.

Regardless, this version of Evans is nothing close to the one that was iconic in its era. He has accomplished everything and has been stripped away to nothing competitively. There is nothing left for him in this game.

Did we see the end of Rashad Evans' career in Mexico City?

Only he knows, and no one else gets to make the decision for him. 

But based on his storied career, the money he's made, the options he has for the future and how he's looked recently, one would have to hope we did.

         

Follow me on Twitter @matthewjryder.