Niagara Gazette

February 3, 2013

PARRINO: Rashad Evans has lost his way

By Matt Parrino
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette —

Watching Rashad Evans fight these days is an exercise in futility.

Gone is the fighter that took the light heavyweight division by storm back in 2008, when he knocked out Chuck Liddell, one of the sport's most legendary icons, in what ended up being the UFC's knockout of the year.

What we're left with is today's version of Evans, a guy who barely even showed up Saturday night against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156. Evans lost by decision, a result he's become more than familiar with over his seven-year UFC career.

I was embarrassed for Evans on Saturday night and UFC President Dana White likely agreed, saying after the pay per view that he believed Evans has lost his "desire and hunger."

In a sport dominated by men with the utmost drive and determination, Evans is quickly becoming an afterthought. But the more you really look at his career, has he had us fooled all along?

The Liddell knockout was amazing, but since then Evans' track record has been less than stellar. He beat Forrest Griffin for the UFC light heavyweight belt back in December 2008, but lost it in his very next fight against Lyoto Machida, and in devastating knockout fashion.

Griffin was a pioneer in the sport, but he's lost to most of the top guys in his weight class. His wins over Tito Ortiz (twice) and Rich Franklin were nice, but both fighters were in the twilight of their careers. He's never been able to even re-enter the championship discussion since Evans beat him.

Since Evans lost to Machida, he's gone 4-2, and of those four wins he was only able to finish one opponent: a 36-year-old Ortiz.

He barely beat Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and was completely outclassed in his grudge match versus current 205-pound champ Jon "Bones" Jones.

Saturday's loss against an out of shape, inferior Nogueira is all the evidence I need to prove that Evans has lost his will to fight. He doesn't engage opponents — consistently staying on the outside after he in unsuccessful at a takedown or two — essentially employing a fight-not-to-lose game plan. It's boring and tends to equate to a lot of decisions, which Evans has piled up.

A win on Saturday would have elevated Evans to a title fight with Anderson Silva, according to reports that surfaced prior to the bout. 

With that opportunity now gone and a likely fall down the ladder of contenders in both weight classes (185 and 205), the Niagara Falls native must decide if he still wants to be a fighter. 

If the answer is yes, he would be well served to destroy the tape of Saturday's horrible excuse for a fight and maybe think about trying to rekindle his passion for the sport. If it's no, I'd prefer he not take a spot away from a fighter that is actually going to make the $55 pay per view price tag worth it to the majority of the fan base.

Find Tonawanda News sports editor Matt Parrino on Twitter @MattParrino.