With the exception of the date, the next UFC light heavyweight title fight has been all but officially set for awhile. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is expected to defend his title against Rashad Evans sometime next spring once he has fully recovered from knee surgery. So everything’s all good then, right? We just have to be patient. Well, someone tell that to Rashad Evans because he’s getting tired of waiting around and thinks the UFC should create an interim title for him to fight for in the meantime if Shogun isn’t going to be ready until the summer.
“It’s just frustrating,” Evans told ESPN.com. “I am a fighter and I need to make a living doing this, but at the same time it’s about getting that gold. But if the gold is something that I’m not going to get an opportunity to fight for then I have to face that possibility and move forward and do some other things. If I don’t get the chance to fight for the belt, I will never ask to fight for this belt again. I will never want to fight for that belt again.”
“If [Rua] is going to be out longer than May or June then [UFC] should consider an interim title and I will fight for an interim belt. It’s something. It might not mean much to everybody, but it’s something. But if I don’t get a chance to fight for an interim belt, then I will just beat everybody in the division and I will never fight for the belt.”
“There have been other times when they’ve had situations like this and it’s never happened like that,” Evans said. “So if I don’t get to fight for this belt because [Rua] stays injured too long and they don’t make anything happen, then I will never ask to fight for that belt again, man. The main goal is to get the belt, but it seems the closer I get to the belt the further away it gets, like it’s not going to happen. I understand that Rua is hurt, but they’ve been in situations like this before and have made it work.”
To be honest, I’m not even sure half of what Rashad said made any sense. Dana White seems to agree and has no intentions of creating an interim title when they know Shogun’s estimated time of return.
“That’s the weirdest comment I have ever heard in my life,” White told ESPN.com. “We offered him a fight in September; he turned it down. He said he didn’t want to harm his brand. I don’t know what the Rashad Evans brand is, or what that means, but he said he didn’t want to harm it. It’s not like we were keeping him from fighting, he chose to wait for Shogun. It’s not our fault; Shogun had knee surgery.”
“We created an interim title belt when he champ’s future was absolutely unclear,” White said. “We thought Brock Lesnar was going to need surgery. The guy who holds the belt is the champion. If he can’t return for a long amount of time, and that amount of time is undetermined, then you create an interim belt.”
“Personally, I have a great relationship with Rashad. He’s a great guy. When you meet him outside, he’s a great guy. But when it comes to fighting, he is a complete head case.”
I have to side with Dana on this one. I get that Shogun’s injury put Rashad in kind of a predicament, but he made his choice to wait. You can’t turn around and whine about it later. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
And what good would creating an interim title do now anyways? They’re meaningless and in this case, pointless. Whether it’s an interim title fight or a title eliminator, he’s just going to turn around and fight Shogun in the spring for the real title. Why would you want to wear a championship belt in the meantime when you’re not the real champion?
I don’t get it, but that’s often how it goes in this sometimes wacky sport. Anyways, you should probably know the UFC is hoping to book Rua vs. Evans for a March 2011 event if Shogun is cleared in time… and apparently if Rashad is still willing to wait.
Update: It appears Rashad Evans isn’t too happy with how he has been portrayed in this ESPN story, and took to Twitter to clarify where his frustration lies.
Let me address this article that was put out.. First of all im not impatient about waiting 4 Rua 2 heal especially since it was my choice 2 wait! The UFC did offer me a fight since Rua was gonna b out so long against Lil’Nog. But I turned it down cuz the fight made no sense 2 me. A fight with Machida would’ve made more sense but they matched him up with Rampage. Dana White told me from the beginning they wouldn’t do Interm belt. So @ that point I decided I wait.
No in this article it makes me sound as if I’m upset about waiting which is not the case. What frustrated me was I was hearing conflicting stories of when he was coming back. One moment Dana would say May then in the article he said the fight is scheduled 4 March. Also Rua manager said he will b out maybe longer than June. So I was frustrated on how the dates r ranging.. But like I said I chose 2 wait. But I had a clear idea on when the return may happen then it would effect choices I take.
I’m all fighter I’m not afraid 2 fight anybody! My record would show that! I’ve fought some of the best men in my era & lost once. And 4 the last time I never got offered 2 fight Machida 4 a Interm belt. Ed Soares did a article saying it would b a good idea..
Like I said above, a lot of what Rashad said didn’t make any sense. Maybe he was misquoted? I don’t know, but at least we know this isn’t going to become a problem now. Rua-Evans sometime in the Spring/Summer.
Update 2: More clarification from Rashad Evans.
“The whole thing started was just that ever since Shogun’s been out there’s been talk when he’s coming back and at first I was going to wait for him, but then they said he won’t be ready until like the first of the year. I’m like ‘okay, I’ll wait.’ Then they go he won’t be ready until March. Then Dana went on MMA Live and said he won’t be ready until May. I’m like ‘okay,’ and then I heard just the other day he’s not even at the doctor’s yet. He probably won’t be better until like after June,” Evans explained.
“So I’m just kind of like, for me, I was just really frustrated because I didn’t understand is he not going to fight? Does he not want me to fight for the belt? I was kind of like in limbo.”
“If I could just get an idea of when he might be coming back, it’s all good, because I chose to wait,” said Evans. “But when it’s all these different dates thrown around it was just kind of confusing, like what the (expletive) is it going to be? Am I just not going to fight for the belt? That’s where that whole thing was coming from.
“I was just frustrated because I didn’t have any idea of when I should start getting ready for the fight. If I got a title fight, the least I can do is know kind of when I should start training for the fight.”
“When I talk to Dana, I speak pretty frankly to him and I was just like ‘Dana, I’m just trying to make smart decisions that I need to make. I’ve got to look out for myself and I’ve got to look out for what I’m trying to do. I’ve got to look out for a brand I’m trying to create. You’re trying to look out for your brand, I’m trying to look out for my brand.’ That’s how the whole ‘brand’ got into the whole discussion in the first place,” Evans said.
“I understand that Dana White is our boss and he has a business to run, but I’ve got a business to run too, and it doesn’t always meet eye to eye,” said Evans. “People are like ‘oh what do you mean you’ve got a business to run, you’re just a fighter?’ But at the same time, when people are making money off you and you’re making money fighting, it’s a business. You’ve got to make the right decisions for your business and most of the time when you make those decisions, you’ve really got to take balls out of it.
Much more from Rashad at MMA Weekly.