Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans have been relatively quiet since his upset defeat to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156 on Super Bowl Saturday last month.
"Suga" was a heavy favorite over the Brazilian going into the fight; however, once both men were in the cage, Evans fought unlike himself by not engaging on the feet or the ground with any real sense of urgency.
Fortunately for the 33-year-old, he will get the chance to wipe the poor performance from everyone's memory this June when takes on former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson in a highly anticipated 205-pound contest at UFC 161.
Evans knew he had to get back in the cage quickly after the somewhat humiliating defeat, and taking to ESPN about the match up with "Hendo," Evans seems to believe it's a good match up to help him get over the defeat and "mental fog" he suffered from in his last outing.
"I'm happy about this fight [against Henderson]...Having the chance to fight somebody like Dan is a big deal, especially after not having the performance I would have liked [against Nogueira]. It's good to get in there with somebody like Dan and answer a lot of critics and to show everybody that I am still one of the best guys in the weight class. I couldn't find my rhythm against Nogueira; I couldn't find my timing. It was just one of those things. It was like I was in a mental fog."
What is this "mental fog" that Evans speaks of? According to the Team Blackzilians product, training in Florida every day away from his family in Chicago put a strain on his relationship with his children that he had a hard time dealing with.
"Having a failed marriage and not being able to see your kids on a daily basis, that's what hurts me every single day...I feel like I failed in my marriage and I failed my kids by not being in their lives on a daily basis. It's because they live in Chicago and in order for me to train I live in South Florida for the most part. I have a place in Chicago, but I'm rarely ever there because I'm always trying to train. It bothers me and I can't say that it doesn't."
Coming off of back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career, Evans could be in a do-or-die situation when the Octagon travels to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, for the first time in history this summer.
Evans knows three-straight defeats would do near irreparable damage to his career, and perhaps even end it. That's why he is looking at this match up as a defining point in his career.
"This is the type of fight that keeps you up at night, because you want to do well... My back is against the wall. And this is when I perform at my best. In the fight business, you're only as good as your next fight. If you lose two or three then you're done. My manager Bill Robinson always says, ‘You're either one fight away from getting a title shot and becoming champion or you're two losses away from being cut from UFC.'"
UFC 161: "Barao vs. Wineland" goes down June 15, 2013, from the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Along with Evans vs. Henderson, Mauricio Rua takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira while Renan Barao puts his interim bantamweight title on the line for the second time against Eddie Wineland.
For complete news and notes on UFC 161 check out our event archive, click here.