Could it be that Rashad Evans training at Greg Jackson's MMA was actually a bad thing all along?
That statement would seem blasphemous considering he rose to fame and prominence while under the tutelage of the master training, reaching the pinnacle of the sport by besting a legend before winning the light heavyweight title.
But, as it turns out, during that stretch (and for some time before it), "Suga" may not have been getting the proper attention during his training camps and therefore was not adequately prepared for his fights.
Such as the first meeting against Tito Ortiz.
According to his head coach Mike Van Arsdale (via ESPN), he wasn't getting the kind of specialized training he needed in the lead-up to that contest:
"Every person has different needs. I think Rashad at the time was doing the same workout that the team was doing, which I think wasn't the right prescription for his body type and what he needed to get ready for that particular fight. Instead of running, he probably should have been wrestling; instead of pounding with the legs, he probably should have been practicing some maneuvers with the standup."
I suppose it's not so hard to believe that one of Evans' greatest strengths (his tight-knit team) was simultaneously the source of one of his greatest weaknesses (his need for special attention).
Taking it one step further, Van Arsdale explains why Evans wasn't at his best when he met Ortiz back in July 2007 at UFC 73:
"What happened was he got severe shin splints and an injury to his thigh. But, he kept quiet and fought [Ortiz] anyway, without a camp. He might have had two good weeks and the rest of the time he sat around barely making it through practice."
A big selling point in the rematch, set to take place at the Wells Fargo Center on Aug. 6 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at UFC 133, is the fact that Ortiz would have come away victorious had he not been docked a point for grabbing the fence, resulting in a majority draw.
From the sounds of it, though, that may or may not have been because Evans wasn't at 100-percent.
That's no longer the case now that Rashad has packed up and moved down to Florida to train with the smaller but more efficient Imperial Athletics.
It's down in the "Sunshine State" that Evans rubs elbows with a small group of elite martial artists that are helping get him prepared for an extremely important fight that will go a long way in deciding his career path over the next few years.
Team Evans is happy Ortiz had it in him to sack up and accept a short notice fight. They plan on showing as much in "The City of Brotherly Love," on Aug. 6.
With a healthy, new and improved Rashad Evans.