While both Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans are coming off decision losses heading into UFC 161, most fans and critics didn’t openly question what might be wrong with Hendo following his split decision loss to Lyoto Machida (event though it was a ‘forget this’ kind of a bout). Evans, on the other hand, was widely expected to defeat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156 in February. At the time, Evans was coming off a UD defeat to light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones–no shame in that–and had scored recent wins over men like Thiago Silva, Phil Davis, and “Rampage” Jackson.
As we all know, Evans dropped a unanimous decision loss to Nogueira and didn’t look like his old champion self during the contest. As a result, some observers began questioning whether the 33 year-old’s heart was still in the game, and if his best days might be behind him. While Evans has repeatedly assured audiences as UFC 161 nears that he still wants to fight, in a more recent interview with USA Today, he offered this interesting take on what’s been missing in his recent bouts.
“I turned down the swagger a little because I wanted to be more focused in my competitions. But when I did that, I took a little piece away from me. I took a little of that go inside of me that pushed me, that part that made me get into a dogfight with anybody and do anything to get the win.”
“When I go out there and compete, I have to be cocky. That’s how I compete. I have to have my swag out there and be like that because that’s a part of me. It’s a part you’d never see of me in regular life because I joke around and smile, and you don’t see that side.”
Ah yes. There was a time when Evans was somewhat of a polarizing figure, due to said “swagger.” While such antics will likely fire up Hendo boosters this weekend, Evans will certainly need to be at his best when he takes on the 42 year-old legend.
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