Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion and former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner, Rashad Evans, 38, has announced his retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA).
A very emotional “Suga” appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show to announce his decision to leave the sport after nearly 15 years in the fight game and on the heels of an unprecedented five-fight losing streak.
“I feel pretty good. I took some time to settle my feelings and just get my mind around everything that happened and just be honest with myself. I feel like I have thought about things and had the time away with my own thoughts to make a real evaluation on what the next step is. I am going to retire. At one point in my life I felt fighting was everything and I put life second. But now life is taking over and fighting has become second. Competing in a sport like MMA where you have a lot of guys who havn’t been to the top of the mountain and haven't experienced the things I have, they are really hungry for it. Me, I was just lukewarm. I have been through a lot in the sport, a lot of fights and I don’t look at the sport the same way. It’s hard, man. I didn’t want to go out losing, but at the same time it’s what I need to do because I feel like I have other things in life that are calling me to go to. I thought about how hard it would be for me to say these words and say it out loud, but, I needed to, this is part of the healing and part of me accepting what is. And I can’t fool myself any longer about it. The hard part about it is that physically I feel good enough to compete though I did get knocked out in 56 seconds. I still feel there is a part of me, that desire, that competition. But at the same time, I just don’t have that in me no more to want to do it again.”
Evans admits after losing to Anthony Smith via first-round knockout at UFC 225 a few weeks ago he knew it was time to walk away (see it again here).
Making his UFC debut back in 2005 after winning the second season of TUF, Evans got off to a blistering start inside the Octagon, winning eight in a row with a draw to Tito Ortiz sandwiched in between. In 2008, Evans won the 205-pound title by knocking out Forrest Griffin at UFC 92.
In his first title defense, “Suga” coughed up the strap to Lyoto Machida at UFC 198 after suffering a second-round knockout. By racking up four more wins, Evans earned the chance to reclaim the title when he was booked to face Jon Jones at UFC 145, though he ultimately came up short on the judges’ scorecards.
After that defeat, Evans couldn’t seem to find his groove, losing six of his next eight. With that skid came losing his previous five in a row. Perhaps what really stuck out to fight fans was the fact that his previous three defeats came at the hands of Dan Kelly, Sam Alvey and most recently Anthony Smith.
Despite his recent rough patch, Evans was a huge part of helping UFC climb its way to the top early on under the Zuffa banner and leaves behind plenty of highlight-reel knockouts and memories.
Which one was your favorite?