Rashad Evans has once again found himself matched up against a friend of his as he is ready to challenge former two-time No.1 middleweight contender, Chael Sonnen, in the co-main event of UFC 167 on Nov. 16, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The two light heavyweight title hopefuls, aside from punching people in the face for a living, moonlight as fight analysts for FOX Sports and have forged a friendship thanks to their shared duties with the sports network.
But just because "Suga" shares a desk with "The American Gangster," labeling him a "good guy," doesn't mean he won't stop him from doing his best to put the hurting on him and pick up an all-important win in "Sin City."
Because as Evans revealed on "The MMA Hour," Sonnen will be trying to do the exact same thing to him.
"It's not manufactured (friendship), it's not false, I really do like Chael. Chael is a real good guy, I like Chael a lot. But, when it comes down to fighting, it's a business and I know that he is going to step into the cage 100-percent prepared for me, so I have to do the same. I can't go in there, like, ‘Oh, that's my buddy Chael.' No, Chael is going to try to whoop me. Chael is going to whoop me and be able to brag on me so I got to go out there and do what I need to do."
Breaking his two fight skid by defeating Dan Henderson at UFC 161, Rashad now finds himself a rejuvenated fighter who says he found the love for fighting he was lacking for a while.
It's the love for the daily grind and newly found passion for mixed martial arts (MMA) that will help the former 205-pound kingpin find the motivation to face a friend he has no ill will towards in Sonnen.
"Everyday. It's not something I'll try to find that night. I got to remember that this is why I'm doing this. See, the biggest thing that happened to me in my losses is that I forgot why I was doing this. I didn't enjoy it anymore. I was at the point where I was just going through the motions. I didn't enjoy the process because it's all about the process. You got to really dig deep and love every single thing about the game. And the grind, the grind is where it's at. So, I have to fall in love with that grind again. That grind is what brings that dog out. Because when I'm out there doing the work, I'm hitting that bag and making myself go until I can't go no more or I want to pass out and I'm so dizzy and exhausted; when I do that, I know someone has to pay for that. So when my mindset is going like that, on fight night it becomes easy because I've been breeding that dog all through training camp and on fight night I get to let it out."
Sonnen, meanwhile, is fresh off a first-round submission victory over Mauricio Rua at UFC Fight Night 26 last month, breaking his own two-fight losing streak which came at the expense of current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former 185-pound king Anderson Silva.
A win over Suga at 205 pounds will likely put a permanent halt on "The American Gangster's" move back down to middleweight, while a loss will likely speed that process up.
As for Evans, while the friendship he shares with Sonnen isn't quite as close as the one he had with the aforementioned Jones prior to their fight at UFC 145, going toe-to-toe against a man he can truly call a friend, won't be that much of an issue this time around.