Rashad Evans has been through it all in his professional career: championship glory, heartbreaking defeats, rivalries replacing friendships, and now ACL surgery.
His latest setback comes after two consecutive wins in 2013 -Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen - the second of which was a dominant display for the entire four minutes of fight time. The win earned Evans a date with undefeated Olympian Daniel Cormier at UFC 170 but he suffered the ACL tear several weeks out from the event and was forced to take his place on the sidelines with the other wounded combatants.
The former light-heavyweight champion is far from concerned about the length of his recovery. While he is struggling against the anxious urge to fight and the impatience that's coupled with it, he is committed to his rehabilitation and does not intend to rush it.
"The knee is coming along pretty well. I didn't want to put myself in a situation where I was coming back too soon. I've been taking my time with my therapy - taking some downtime to allow my mind to not push my body too far past the limits right now."
Between downtime and rehab, Evans has set a comfortable timetable for his recovery - one that will keep him outside of the octagon until 2015.
"I want to return in February. That's just me giving myself enough time to make sure that I feel comfortable getting back in there, cause I know when I'm getting back in there, there is nothing but tough guys in my way.
"I'm definitely going to have a tough fight when I come back so I want to be ready for that." he added.
The light-heavyweight division has changed significantly since the last time Evans stepped into the cage, which is why he is now indifferent about the opponents placed in front of him - every single one of them would represent a tough fight. Anthony Johnson's romp through the rankings is an example of that.
Evans explained that Johnson's sudden surge at 205lb. was due to his exile from the organization, when he was relegated to fighting at smaller shows. Now that he finally earned his opportunity back into flagship promotion, he was not prepared to waste it. "Anthony showed everybody that he is a contender and that he does have that beast mentality."
With Johnson's rise to the upper echelon of the division, the pool of contenders has shrunk to a handful of potential opponents, which puts the two training partners in quite a predicament when they each could hold a spot in the division's Top 5.
Evans, however, is not interested in that match-up.
"We fight more than the UFC can pay us to. We fight every single day. We are each other's No. 1 training partner. Would I fight him professionally? No I wouldn't fight him. We feed off each other in a lot of different ways. No, I can't fight him."
This is not the first time that Evans has been placed in this sort of scenario. In fact, with a few details changed, this could be considered déjà vu. Yet Rashad believes his past experience will help shape the future in a different way.
"I believe that with the relationship that Anthony and I have, that if that bridge needed to get crossed, we would find a different way to handle it than I did the first time."