Coming off two difficult losses, life is not so sweet right now for Rashad “Suga” Evans. After losing to the undisputed champion of the light-heavyweight division, Jon “Bones” Jones, Evans put up a dismal effort against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. In that fight, he looked slow and completely off his rhythm, and if that’s the Evans we see at UFC 161 against Dan Henderson, Suga is going to have to make some difficult career decisions. If Evans loses a third fight in a row, it may prove that he is past the time of facing high-profile opponents or that he simply can’t hang in the light-heavyweight division. The latter is something he has previously considered, and there has already been talk of Evans moving down a weight class.
If Evans manages to pull out a win against Henderson, it still may not mean a title shot for him. Jones has already beaten him, albeit by decision, and proven that Evans is not at his level. If Suga wants another chance, he’s going to have to defeat every other person who has been working towards the same goal. There has been talk about a rematch against the younger of the Nogueira brothers, and although there’s always money to be made in a rematch and people would definitely watch the fight, it simply wouldn’t be fair to the fighters who have paid their dues and actually deserve a chance and the champ.
There has been a lot of talk about Glover Teixeira facing the winner of the upcoming main event in UFC 161, and I believe that would be a great opponent for either of the fighters involved. Teixeira has already beaten Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, proving that he can handle one of the heaviest hitters in the sport’s history. He has grappled with the monstrous Jeff Monson and the beastly Brandon Vera, proving that his ground game is world-class. He is definitely working his way through the light-heavyweight division, and has certainly earned himself a title eliminator match against whomever comes out on top in Evans vs. Henderson.
If Evans ends up losing to “Hendo”, then things will become a little more difficult for him. He definitely doesn’t have to worry about facing a cut from the UFC, even with a three-loss streak, as he has proven himself time and time again. Evans has beaten fighters who will go down in the sport’s history as some of the greats, such as Tito Ortiz, “Rampage” Jackson, Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell. He was the previous champion of the light-heavyweight division after taking down the seemingly unstoppable Liddell, won The Ultimate Fighter 2, has received “fight-” and “knockout of the night” twice each, was the Sherdog Fighter of the Year in 2008, and was a Junior College National Champion in wrestling at 165 pounds. With all of this backing him up, one more loss will not eject him from the league, but it will hurt his credibility.
If Evans loses this next fight and decides to stay as a light-heavyweight, then he will definitely be out of the running for a title shot. He will most likely become a fighter that up and comers need to beat in order to prove themselves worthy of high-profile fights. He may end up being matched up with Ryan “Darth” Bader, who is ranked as the ninth best light-heavyweight in the world. Bader won The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir, and would be a good match for Evans if he loses. Another option for Evans is to move down a weight class, which may or may not end up being a good decision for him since it is a division dominated by Anderson Silva, but not many others.