At this point, I think all of us in the MMA universe have grown weary of the seemingly unending string of injuries in major bouts. Most recently, Phil Davis was injured and forced to remove himself from his main event fight at UFC 133 against Rashad Evans.
It is Evans who seems to have the worst luck of all. A week or so ago, I sat in an airport terminal waiting to depart for a tropical locale and wrote an article that proposed the idea that mixed martial arts may have a curse attached to it. It was just an idea, but if anyone thinks they are cursed, Rashad Evans probably is that man.
We could say that the fact that Rashad decided to wait for Mauricio Shogun Rua, turned down many bouts in the past and was himself injured could be reasons for his layoff & seemingly bad luck. But it doesn't end there. UFC decided not to wait for another proposed title shot against Jon Jones, and instead took a headlining bout at UFC 133 with Phil Davis.
That was a fight that was intriguing, but even that would not happen. Davis pulled out of the fight with an injury and Tito Ortiz was approached about a potential rematch with Rashad Evans. Evans and Ortiz fought to a draw at UFC 73 in July 2007. Ortiz responded on Twitter that he was not interested in the bout due to taking it on less than a month's notice.
Lyoto Machida was then pegged by UFC brass as another man who was worthy of the main event fight. However, that too has been scrapped. MMAfighting.com reported today that Machida's wife has informed the media that Lyoto has made the same decision that Tito Ortiz made. Machida thinks he would need more time for such a high profile opponent like Rashad Evans.
Now what we are left with is a painstakingly frustrating situation, both for Rashad Evans and for MMA fans. The question now is who Rashad Evans will fight. Randy Couture is retired. Rampage Jackson, Jon Jones, Shogun Rua and Forrest Griffin are all already booked. Ryan Bader just lost and his stock dropped. Tito Ortiz and Lyoto Machida both turned the fight down. So who will Rashad fight?
Let's take a look at who he could be paired with:
1. Stephan Bonnar
This fight may not make a ton of sense, but it would probably be a very good fight. I don't know that Bonnar knows how to be boring.
2. Matt Hamill
This would be quite a stretch considering that he just lost to Rampage, but one thing is certain about Hamill, he never backs down. This won't happen, but if he was given the opportunity the man would step up.
3. Rich Franklin
He is already slated to fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, but "Ace" would step in for a main event. Add in the fact that he is always in good shape. Evans fighting Franklin in the main event could be a good sell.
4. Vladimir Matyushenko
He is a grizzled veteran, and since losing to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, he has two knockout victories in a row.
The UFC is known to plug holes in fight cards. If the boat is sinking, plugging a major hole may save the vessel, whereas the smaller hole can be sacrificed. The UFC brass would much rather deal with Alexander Gustaffson maybe not having his fight than having to scrap their main event. Matyushenko would be a good test for a returning Evans.
In the end these are the only men I think that are left out there, unless Dana White really decides to use his brass balls and bring in someone from Strikeforce. I would like to see someone like Raphael Cavalcante in the Octagon, but this seems completely unlikely at this point.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the coming weeks. This has been a summer of MMA action thus far. In order to keep the momentum going straight to New Orleans in September, the UFC needs to make an opponent for Evans—and soon.
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