Rashad Evans on the Eve of His Championship Bout
[Editor's Note: In the end, Evans / Jones in UFC 145 was as close and as competitive as everyone thought it would be. Rashad Evans went the distance in an epic clash of light-heavyweight titans, but Jon Jones got the unanimous decision, as the judges scored it 50-45, 49-46, and 49-46 in Jones' favor. Neither fighter went down as they went toe to toe in the cage, each seeking an edge against an opponent he knew so well. Evans didn't get the championship belt he coveted, but he earned the respect of Jones, who said after the fight, "Hats off to Rashad. He definitely has made a lot of leaps and bounds in his game." Now, Evans, whose record is still a sterling 17-2-1, will pick up the pieces and resume his quest to regain the championship he believes in his heart will once again be his.]
This is it. All the verbal jousting between the UFC fighters' camps, all the round-the-clock media pandemonium and fan chatter are over now. Only the championship fight itself remains.
Rashad Evans, the man they call "Suga," the former champion, has waited two long years for this opportunity. To re-take what is his. The UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship. And now only Jon Jones stands in his way.
When the lights come up on the Octagon on Saturday night in Atlanta for UFC 145, two old friends, now sworn enemies, will stand in the spotlight ready to compete in one of the most widely anticipated fights in UFC history: Rashad Evans vs. Jon Jones.
Often in a marquee fight like this one, it's the challenger who provides the context and talks about what's at stake. Before this fight, however, it was Jon Jones who told MMA media during a conference call that "this fight has been referred to as the Ali - Frazier of our sport and our time." Clearly, Jones--like Evans--recognizes the historic import of what is sure to be an epic battle.
Jon Jones is almost certainly the most formidable adversary Evans has ever fought. Amazingly, Jones has defeated reigning or former world champions in each of his last three fights. But Suga has his own advantages and will try to bring the fight to Jones on his own terms. First and foremost, Evans is the more skilled wrestler. He has more takedowns than any other light heavyweight in UFC history. Secondly, he has speed and stamina advantages over Jones, the heavy hitter. And finally, Evans is intimately familiar with his opponent, having sparred with Jones for countless hours in Greg Jackson's Submission Fighting camp. Of course, familiarity is a sword that cuts both ways.
The stage is set. With only hours to go before the big fight, ProSource checked in briefly with the former and perhaps future UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans to ask him a few questions about his training and his expectations for the bout:
Rashad Evans: It's all about going out and fighting my fight and imposing my skillset on Jon. There's no doubt I want to put a hurtin' on him and get that championship belt back around my waist. Nobody has given him a real challenge in the cage, but that will change after Saturday night. I'm not going to be intimidated by Jon and what he's done before this fight, and I'm not going to back down. My gameplan is to go after him and put him in positions he's never been in before in the Octagon.
The blueprint is, 'I ain't scared,' and it's as simple as that.
ProSource: You and Jon Jones have a long history together. To what extent does a familiarity with your opponent influence your performance in the Octagon? Does it help or hurt, and why?
Rashad Evans: I think it helps a lot and that will be something I can use to my advantage. Nobody else Jon has ever fought has been in the Octagon with him prior to fighting him, but that's something that's going to be a factor in this fight and I think that helps me.
That familiarity goes both ways, but it's definitely going to help me on Saturday.
ProSource: Let's talk training. Your recent thumb injury is no longer a factor and your conditioning looked superb in the Davis fight. What were your top training goals going into this fight? Have you made any changes in your daily training regimen?
Rashad Evans: My new camp, Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Delray Beach FL. (run by coach Mike Van Arsdale), is just a great place. For this fight, we set up a similar training schedule to the last few camps, which had me in the best condition of my career and led to success and wins.
The training is intense and everyone there pushes each other, allowing everyone to improve in every area of MMA. We've got a good thing going at Imperial Athletics and the training camps that we've put together, so not a lot has changed going into this fight.
ProSource: Are supplements a big part of your training regimen and diet? Do you take a daily protein formula? Creatine? Vitamins? Pre-workout or post-workout supplements?
As for my diet, I eat super clean and the majority of my foods are organic. As hard as I train and push my body, having a clean diet is imperative for recovery and getting the results I want in the cage. MusclePharm products are a big part of that, too. They are outstanding products and that's really important to me.
ProSource: You've triumphed over adversity again and again in your career. What is it about defying expectations that brings out the best in you?
This fight is my chance to become champion again and I'm ready for this opportunity. All the adversity to get here has only helped me mature and get better and everyone will see the best Rashad Evans ever on Saturday.
ProSource: Good luck, Rashad, and thanks for sharing with our readers.
Rashad Evans: You're welcome.