Defiant Rashad Evans roars: 'I'm not afraid to fight'

ESPN staff
March 3, 2011
Rashad Evans has hinted he may not target an immediate title shot upon his return from injury © UFC

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Rashad Evans has launched a staunch defence of his decision to wait around for a title shot against Mauricio Shogun Rua, insisting it was a business call.

Evans has not fought for 10 months after he opted to wait for Shogun to recover from a knee injury. As No. 1 contender, Evans chose to await his title shot rather than risking his status at the top of the light-heavyweight pile by taking on the likes of Rampage Jackson or Lyoto Machida, a decision that backfired when a knee injury of his own meant he had to pull out of the March showdown.

Now the former champion faces the prospect of seeing his road to the top blocked, with good friend Jon Jones - whom Evans has vowed never to fight - stepping into his shoes for the title shot at UFC 128. Evans has been accused of being lazy, afraid and money-driven, but the TUF 2 winner insists nothing could be further from the truth.

"Say for instance I would have taken a fight, but then got injured training for a fight that wasn't a title bout. Everybody would have said I was stupid for not waiting," Evans told Bloody Elbow. "I got hurt in a freak accident while I was training for the title bout so it's just something that happened. It probably couldn't have happened another one in a million times but it happened to me and with no time to spare.

"Let me set a few things straight... first and foremost I was not afraid to fight. I would have fought but I wanted it to be for something. [UFC president] Dana White and the UFC didn't want to do an interim belt so therefore I waited. What was my guarantee and what would I really have been fighting for? I can tell you what I do fight for and that's to be the champion and what would a win against somebody else have got me when I had already earned the number one contender spot?"

Explaining his thinking, Evans revealed he will not accept whoever the UFC puts in front of him. "When you are in this business you have to understand that two of the biggest parts are navigating your career and taking fights that will allow you to get to the places you want to reach in this game.

"Every guy on the UFC roster is a tough guy. But what separates tough guys into different levels? It comes down to how smart you are and the choices that you make. It's about where you choose to set up at. There is not much of a difference and sometimes it just comes down to the decisions and choices that you make and sometimes you have to make choices that are not the most popular.

"You have people saying I was scared to fight.... man I'm a fighter, that's what I do. Plus I don't think there is anybody out there that can whoop me so what am I afraid of? I've fought some of the best guys in my time and era. I train with the best guys in my time and era so there is nothing that anyone is going to do inside of that cage that I have not seen before."

Evans also revealed that, despite hinting that he could move to heavyweight or middleweight, he is most likely to stay in the 205lb division. However, he is not desperate to go directly into a title encounter.

"I think I'm next in line but here is the reality of the situation. I've put myself in a place where when I do fight again I will have been out a little over a year. So now the question is do I go in there and fight for the title because that was where I was at before I got hurt or do I take at least one non-title fight to make sure that I'm sharp and on point when I get my title shot?

"That's the situation I'm in. Before I got hurt I was the number one contender and ready to go but now I'll be out over a year and if that's something that I need to prove again I will. Because there is no sense in saying you are the number one contender when you really aren't at that level at the time. I would rather take a fight to get back and make sure I'm sharp."

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