Over his almost 15-year long career, Rashad Evans experienced just about every emotion possible in MMA.
When asked by Luke Thomas on this week's MMA Hour, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion considered the best examples on either end. "The highest highs, no secret: my biggest knockouts," he said. "Stepping on the scene with that big knockout over Sean Salmon at Hollywood, Florida. And then the big night with Chuck Liddell that changed my life. That one was a big one, not only for the result but just going into that fight, mentally speaking I felt that I answered the call."
That iconic win over Liddell proved pivotal for Evans, earning him a title shot which he capitalized on, stopping Forrest Griffin to become the new 205 lbs champion. Evans didn't successfully defend his crown but remained among the elite regardless, featuring in the title picture until years later. It wasn't all good in 'Suga's career though, with the former Ultimate Fighter winner unfortunately ending his career on a five fight losing streak.
"When I lost to Dan Kelly, that was a moment for me where I was just like ‘dude, what is going on?’ Dan Kelly is a hard-nosed fighter but I just feel like my skill level and where I can fight at is a lot higher and I did not exhibit that." While that particular loss stands out in Evans' mind, he's come to understand that portion of his career far better since retiring. "It was kinda sad for me because towards the end of my career, my desire to want to compete, that flame, that burning desire . . . that dog that was there, it kinda just changed.
"It changed because my life changed," he explained. "Towards the end, the piece of me that made me fight: the dog in me, the peace that I was trying to heal, it got healed up a bit. Life wasn’t the same mentally speaking for me so competing for me was a lot harder. Coming to peace and coming to understand the fact that I don’t need to fight. I can still be able to me without fighting, coming to peace with being able to stop fighting. That was a process but it was something that I’m glad that I decided to do."
As for Evans' whole career, he's more than content with his overall body of work. “I’m really satisfied. I couldn’t be happier to be honest. Even though it didn’t end the way that I wanted it to, it ended the way that it needed to. That’s one thing that I had to reflect on and just accept, just moving forward in life. There’s a lot to be proud of in the career I had and watching that montage, I forgot the emotion behind some of things that I’ve accomplished too."
Evans' happiness is warranted, recently being announced as the latest inductee in the 2019 UFC Hall of Fame class. That feat will officially take place on July 5th, taking place as a part of International Fight Week.
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