Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is planning his return to mixed martial arts (MMA), but it won’t be under the UFC banner.
That’s according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, who recently spoke to Evans’ manager, Ali Abdelaziz. While Evans is looking to make his return to the sport he’s called home since 2004 UFC is reportedly uninterested in re-signing the veteran fighter. According to Abdelaziz, “Suga” has fought out his UFC contract and is free to sign with any MMA promotion he desires.
Update: My mistake, I misunderstood a detail of this. I'm told Rashad Evans fought out his UFC contract. He spoke to Dana White about his interest in fighting again and both sides were comfortable with him going elsewhere. He was not "released" from an existing contract. https://t.co/6vs0YOuJgK— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) September 20, 2019
Evans, 40, retired from MMA in June of last year after getting battered by light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith via knockout just 53 seconds in the first round. That loss to “Lionheart” was the fifth in a row for Evans, who moved back and forth from middleweight to light heavyweight in search of production, and his third career knockout defeat inside of the Octagon.
While Evans has a track record littered with victories over the likes of Chuck Liddell, Michael Bisping, Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen, Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson, and Forrest Griffin, the former Ultimate Fighter winner just hasn’t looked the same since losing two years to injury dating back to 2013-2015. The New York native never won another fight inside of the Octagon after returning from his hiatus.
Still, even at the age of 40, Evans holds some star power in today’s sport. Bellator MMA, which has taken in the likes of Ortiz, Sonnen, and Lyoto Machida over the past few years, is a perfect landing spot for an aging veteran looking to turn the clock back. Even growing promotions like One Championship and Professional Fighters League (PFL) would have use for a fighter of Evans’ caliber.
After all, the former UFC light heavyweight champion just threw hands with the great Mike Tyson.
Stick with Mania for more news on the return of Rashad Evans.