Rashad Evans, who turns 42 in September, first garnered our attention by lifting The Ultimate Fighter 2 trophy, which he won with a win over Brad Imes back in 2005.
Over the decade that followed Evans was a force in the light heavyweight division, earning the UFC title with a TKO win over Forrest Griffin in 2008. He lost the belt to Lyoto Machida few months later.
After his turn on the 205 lb championship merry-go-round he put together a four-fight winning streak to earn a shot at Jon Jones at UFC 145 in 2012. Evans lost that fight and then went on a 2-6 run before calling it a career. His last UFC appearance was in a loss to Anthony Smith in 2018.
After three years away from competition, Evans now says he is ready to come back. However, he’s not looking to fight in MMA again. Instead he’s hoping to get in on the celebrity boxing trend and, specifically, the Paul brother gravy train.
He told MMA Fighting all about it.
“I know my fighting days are behind me for the large part, but I would just love to go out there and put the gloves on a few more times just to enjoy myself and really end the sport the way that I want to end the sport,” Evans said.
When explaining his decision to try boxing, Evans—an accomplished college wrestler—said that’s actually where he started out his combat sports journey.
“I started out with boxing – boxing was my first love. I started out with boxing when I was 13, 14 years old going to the boxing club in Niagara Falls, N.Y., trained by [Calvin] ‘Pop’ Porter. I was into boxing back then, but then I got out of it with wrestling and everything like that. Now I’m in a stage where MMA is a brutally hard sport. It takes a lot to be able to fight on that aspect. Can I do MMA? I’m sure I can do MMA, but I don’t know if I’ll be at the highest level based on everything that it encompasses, and I don’t know if I want to put my body through an MMA match.
“When it came to competing, I wanted it to be fun. I wanted it to be something different and challenging and there’s nothing like the sweet science of boxing.”
Evans’ focus on boxing is also due to the rewards that might be available to someone with a long list of MMA credentials. He’s already seen Ben Askren scoop the biggest payday of his career in a fight with YouTuber Jake Paul and he’s about to see Tyron Woodley do the same thing.
Evans admitted that at first he was turned off by the Paul Brothers spectacle, but now he wants in.
“At first when it first started happening, I was like oh my gosh, what is this, it’s a mockery of the sport,” he said. “But then it took a while for me to get but once I got it, I got it. I understood as far as when it comes down to it, these guys, Jake Paul, Logan Paul, these guys have a huge following and they’ve been following since they were knee high on Disney. So they’ve loved these guys. Watching these guys compete and reach the level that they’re able to reach with boxing is amazing for them. It’s everything for them.
“I’m going to be honest, at first I thought these guys were going to go in there and not take the sport serious and just clown around and just do what they do, be a prankster about it. But they took it serious. They actually look like athletes. They look pretty good. Jake Paul looked pretty tough to be honest. Logan looked pretty decent in his last fight, too. They’re showing like they’ve got a lot of potential and I really like what they’re doing by fighting guys who are fighters but at the same time aren’t boxing guys and it gives them a chance to have somewhat a chance in the fight. It makes it interesting.”
“I think I am the fight for Logan Paul,” continued Evans. “If Logan Paul is serious about fighting then he’ll fight me. If he wants to play around he can fight somebody else. But if he really wants to fight, he wants to really grow himself, then he’ll fight me.
“He’s a young guy, he’s got a lot of physical tools and I want to see how I match up with that. I think it would be a fight that fans would want to see. They’ve seen him with Floyd Mayweather. They’ve seen he’s got a little bit of squabble, he can hang in there. He hung in there with the champ. The champ wasn’t able to get him out of there.
“Let’s see what he’s really about. I think his next fight has to be what he’s about. It can’t just be about surviving. He’s really got to go out there and try to put it on somebody. He doesn’t want to keep fighting all these guys, all these legit boxers who’s got all these skills. He might as well try his hand with me.”