After 14 years and 28 fights, and with well over a decade served in the UFC, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has decided to retire from MMA. He announced his decision on today’s episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show on ESPN following a knockout loss to Anthony Smith at UFC 225 - his fifth loss in a row.
“I’m gonna retire,” Evans said (transcription via MMA Fighting). “There’s just so much that goes into it all, but at one point in my life I felt as if fighting was everything. It was everything. I put life second, but now life is taking over and now fighting has become second. Competing in a sport like mixed martial arts where you have a lot of guys who haven’t been to the top of the mountain and haven’t experienced it the things that I’ve experienced, they’re really hungry for it.
“Me, I was just lukewarm. I’ve been through a lot in this sport. I’ve fought a lot of fights and I don’t look at the sport the same way.”
Evans started his career with five wins on the regional circuit before being brought into The Ultimate Fighter 2 as a heavyweight. He managed to win that show, immediately dropping to 205 pounds in the aftermath. He would go undefeated over his first eight fights in the promotion, winning the UFC light heavyweight title along the way. He dropped the belt to Lyoto Machida in his next fight.
He maintained his status near the top of the division for a while longer, engaging in a long-running feud with Jon Jones that led to their (much delayed) fight in 2012. Jones won that, and Evans never seemed really the same after the bout. He went just 2-7 over the next six years, which included an unsuccessful two-fight run at middleweight.
That last loss came via knockout to Smith, and Evans stated that he knew the end was there when he made his entrance in his hometown of Chicago:
“I kinda felt it was it. I always said to myself when it’s time, I’ll know. And I always prayed that I would know when it’s time and when I walked out, I knew. I knew. It took me weeks to really admit it to myself.”
Evans leaves the sport with a 19-8-1 record. Nine of his wins came via knockout or submission. He holds wins over the likes of Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Michael Bisping, Quinton Jackson, and Dan Henderson.