Rashad “Sugar” Evans is less than a week away from the most important fight of his career. He will be taking on former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 88 in a bout that is sure to escalate the winner up to title contention. Evans has not lost in any of his 17 professional MMA fights, but he knows that his previous accomplishments mean nothing against the former champion.
“When you fight from a position of trying to hold a status, or trying to protect something, then you don’t go in there and have great performances,” Evans told MMAWeekly. “I’ve had many performances where I felt pressure to be undefeated, and you just don’t fight right. I’d just assume to forget about my record and start off this fight zero and zero.”
Thus far, the toughest opponent that Evans has faced in the Octagon has been Tito Ortiz. He fought the former UFC champion to a close draw, which many thought that Evans actually won. He knows that Liddell will pose a much greater threat than Ortiz because of his knockout power. But the way he sees it, his opponent is really himself.
“Whenever you fight somebody, you look across the ring, they have a different face, but you’re pretty much fighting yourself,” Evans said. “And it’s a challenge I get to present to myself to see if I can go out there and do it.”
Just a few years ago, Liddell was sitting atop the most glamorous division in the world. He was the face of the UFC, and even made an appearance on the popular television show, Entourage. But don’t expect Evans to succumb to the glitz and glamour that is surrounded with fighting an opponent of Liddell’s caliber.
“There is (danger) if you’ve got too much idol worship,” Evans says. “I respect Chuck and I’m a big fan of Chuck, and I love what he does for the sport. But then at the same time, I still want to go out there and kick his ass. It’s just the competitor in me. If we were playing air hockey, I’ll try to kick his ass in air hockey, just to compete.”