Since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Rashad Evans has struggled to get total fan acceptance. There were some ugly decision wins early on in his UFC career before a switch flipped and he stopped Jason Lambert and landed the brutal head kick KO of Sean Salmon. That was enough to put Evans into a fight with Tito Ortiz in a shot to show that he could compete at the highest level.
He would draw with Ortiz after Tito was docked a point but showed that he clearly could compete with a man who, to that point, had only lost to top level fighters. From the Ortiz fight until now, Rashad's resume is a who's who of top fighters.
- Michael Bisping was undefeated and would go on to become one of the best middleweights in the world. Evans controlled him en route to a decision win.
- Chuck Liddell was ranked #3 in the world when Evans knocked him out, coming off a classic win over Wanderlei Silva. Rashad knocked him out with a single punch that would likely stop any man in the world.
- Forrest Griffin was ranked #1 in the world and had beaten Mauricio Rua and Quinton Jackson in his last two fights. Rashad knocked him out in the third round.
- Lyoto Machida came into the Evans fight ranked #3 in the world. It was a nightmare fight stylistically for Rashad and a bad loss, but almost every fighter in history has someone they just match up horribly with.
- Evans rebounded with a win over #9 Thiago Silva. Yes, he was hurt in the third round, but he survived and earned the win over a legit fighter.
- Rashad beat #4 light heavyweight Quinton Jackson in a grudge match. Again, a rocky early part of the third round, but Rashad came back to win the round with a takedown and big ground and pound.
Combining all that with the Ortiz win over the past weekend and you have a resume as impressive as any light heavyweight in the world over the past few years.
Why is it that the resume just isn't good enough for many people? Bringing up Rashad's name still brings out people calling him overrated, unimpressive, untalented. And there is an immediate push to discredit his wins. Liddell was old and no good (despite the fact that Rashad's KO may have changed the rest of his fighting career), Forrest wasn't that good anyway, Thiago Silva hurt him, Rampage hurt him and the fight was boring, Ortiz took him down early. These are the things many would prefer to talk about with Evans.
Is it his "cocky" attitude? That is something that has dogged him ever since Matt Hughes decided it was an issue on TUF. Is it that people just can't reform an opinion after deciding he wasn't going to be a great fighter early in his career? Is it the sort of racism that has been brought up ever since the spectacular Chuck KO?
Whatever it is, Rashad Evans doesn't care and keeps doing his job. Maybe it's time for the MMA community to embrace a true top level talent while he is still in his prime.