Mike Van Arsdale was the wrestling coarch at Jackson's MMA for a long time, but now works out of Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, FL. When Rashad Evans had his big falling out with Team Jackson, he found a new home in Florida with his old wrestling coach. Van Arsdale talked to Chuck Mindenhall of ESPN about the arrangement, and about Rashad's first fight with Tito Ortiz back at UFC 73. First, he described the gym:
"It’s almost like a little mom and pop restaurant that’s got the best food," Van Arsdale told ESPN.com of his Imperial Athletics gym in Boca Raton. "That’s what we got going on down here, it’s a mom and pop. We’re small. We’re not big. We’re not some big name with all these UFC fighters."
Then he jumps right into how Rashad was trained for his first fight with Ortiz at UFC 73, and how this new gym and setup might be more beneficial for him:
"Every person has different needs," Van Arsdale says. "I think Rashad at the time was doing the same workout that the team was doing, which I think wasn’t the right prescription for his body type and what he needed to get ready for that particular fight. Instead of running, he probably should have been wrestling; instead of pounding with the legs, he probably should have been practicing some maneuvers with the standup.
"What happened was he got severe shin splints and an injury to his thigh. But, he kept quiet and fought [Ortiz] anyway, without a camp. He might have had two good weeks and the rest of the time he sat around barely making it through practice."
I had no idea that Rashad was injured going into that fight. I wonder how Rashad himself feels about that info coming out, since fans tend to look down on "excuses", even if they're not made by the fighter himself and might be completely legitimate. Van Arsdale closes with some complimentary talk about Ortiz:
"We’re happy it’s Ortiz," he says. "Of course, we would like Phil Davis to still be there, but he’s not, so we had to take what we could get and Ortiz had the nerve and the confidence to put his name on the paper to fight Rashad, so I’m really happy that somebody stepped up to the plate and took the fight on short notice."
Will Tito latch onto these comments about injuries and try to spin them? That is what the old Ortiz would have done for sure. Is the new Tito still that kind of guy? Time will tell.