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Rashad Evans on his MMA career: ‘There’s a lot to be proud of’

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Rashad Evans reflects on his remarkable career in the UFC now that he’s retired.

Rashad Evans Jon Jones Daniel Cormier D.C. UFC heavyweight Miesha Tate SiriusXM Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Like many fighters, Rashad Evans’ UFC career didn’t exactly end the way he wanted it to. The fight game is merciless and evolves quickly. It catches up to everyone, and after five straight losses, the 39-year-old former UFC light heavyweight champion finally decided enough was enough. Now he’s sailing into retirement, and will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

As a guest on The MMA Hour this week, Rashad reflected on his many accomplishments, and wasn’t shy about addressing his shortcomings as well (via MMA Fighting):

“Stepping on the scene with that big knockout of Sean Salmon in Hollywood, Florida. The big night with Chuck Liddell that changed my life. That one was a big one not just because of the results but because going into that fight, mentally speaking, I answered the call. I felt that was me stepping into what I like to call my mastery. That’s that level where I start stepping into the skill level that I know I’m good at. It was an important time for me, that was a great high.”

“I couldn’t be happier [with my career],” Evans said. “Even though it didn’t end the way that I wanted to, it ended the way it needed to. That’s one that I had to reflect on and accept on. Just accept and move forward in life. But there’s a lot to be proud of with the career that I have. Watching that [career] montage, I forgot the emotion behind some of the things I’ve accomplished because I haven’t put myself in a position to have perspective. So being able to have perspective one Saturday was just an emotional thing.”

Evans was quick to address where things went sideways though:

“When I lost to Dan Kelly at [UFC 207], that was a moment for me that was like ‘Dude, what is going on?’” Evans said. “Dan Kelly is a hard-nosed fighter but I felt my skill level and where I can fight at is a lot higher and I did not exhibit that. It was kind of sad for me because towards the end of my career my desire to want to compete, that flame and that burning desire that had me not afraid to compete against guys that were 6-foot 7, 6-foot 8 and outweighed me by 30 or 40 pounds, that dog that was there kind of changed. It changed because my life changed and dealing with the things that happened in my life while I was in my career, all those things change you as a fighter. Then, towards the end, the piece of me that made me fight, the dog in me, the piece I was trying to heal, it got healed up a bit and life wasn’t the same mentally for me. So, competing for me was a lot harder. That was an adjustment I had to make.

“Coming to peace and coming to understand the fact that I don’t need to fight in order to—I can still be able to be me without fighting and come to peace with being able to stop fighting, that was a process. But it’s something I’m glad I decided to stop and I decided to do.”

Evans will officially enter the Hall of Fame, along with former opponent Michael Bisping and some others, during the Fan Expo in July.