Below is a blog written by Rashad Evans provided courtesy of UFC.com:
We’re less than a month away from UFC 78, and things are heating up here in the gym in Albuquerque as I get ready for my fight with Michael Bisping on November 17th. Bisping’s a tough opponent coming off a tough fight with Matt Hamill where he left a lot of questions out there for his fans and for himself, so I know he’s gonna come out in this fight and try to make a statement.
I’m coming off a tough fight myself with Tito Ortiz, and whenever you leave it in the judges’ hands, and make it close enough to be that kind of decision where it’s not one-sided, you leave room for error and you’ve got to take some of that responsibility on yourself. You really can’t be like ‘I did this,’ or ‘I did that’. You really can’t make a case for yourself because if you really did as much as you believe you did, there would be no question in anybody’s mind.
I felt pretty good coming into that fight, but I didn’t perform to the best of my ability. But those are things I feel, as an up and coming fighter, that I’m going to constantly get better as I keep fighting in the big shows, and I learned that I need to come out of my comfort zone. In a fight, there comes a time where you have to step out of the comfort zone and really take chances and make yourself vulnerable in order to gain. I wasn’t willing to do that in the beginning of the fight with Ortiz. He came out and he felt really strong and very explosive, and his striking wasn’t that bad either. So all those things I thought he wasn’t gonna be good at, he was pretty good at and it surprised me. It took me a minute to say, ‘you know what, it’s not the best that I ever went against, but it’s pretty good.’ Then I started to open up, but it wasn’t enough soon enough and the judges scored it a draw. A lot of people say, ‘man, if he didn’t grab the fence, you would have lost.’ But if he didn’t grab the fence, what would have happened to him? What would the round have looked like if he didn’t grab the fence?
Looking back, I can’t say I underestimated him, but maybe I didn’t respect him as much as I should have. You can say a lot of things about that guy, but he’s a pretty tough fighter still. He’s very strong, he’s explosive, his striking has definitely got a lot better, and he was a lot better than I thought he was going to be.
I thought we were going to fight again in November, but Ortiz didn’t take the fight. I kind of expected it because after that fight, I knew that he wouldn’t want to fight me again. It’s just something I felt. After the fight, he came over to me, looked at me, kinda gave a nod to me without saying anything, and then said, ‘Good job. You’re a star now. You’re very, very tough.’ I knew when he said it that he wasn’t gonna fight me, and I was a bit disappointed because I really wanted to fight Ortiz again, more so for myself to say, ‘you know what, I could dominate this guy.’ But when I didn’t get the fight, I took a minute, processed it, and said ‘that fight is for another day, another time.’ I think this fight against Bisping is a good fight for me, and I’m just gonna take it, make the best out of it, and really go out there and enjoy myself. This will be the perfect showcase for me.
As far as Bisping’s fighting goes, I think his main attribute always has been not his striking or anything about his fight game – it’s his attitude. He actually believes that he’s this monster, this beast. It’s kinda like how Diego Sanchez was – he had this attitude, and I think that’s what makes him persevere through fights, this attitude that he’s bigger than life, and I think that carries him a lot, and a big part of the reason why he’s undefeated. Of course, if you’re gonna have that attitude, you’ve got to be really honest with yourself. You’re gonna say, ‘If I’m gonna lose, I’m gonna make it a loss like this, where this guy is feeling me every single second and he never wants to fight me again.’ Then you can afford to have that attitude where you think you’re a beast, because win or lose, you are a beast, and I think you come out on top no matter what.
It gets hard to maintain this though, because you fool yourself, and sometimes I find myself doing it. Sometimes I go in the gym and I do pretty good, and just before I’m about to really push myself to the limit, I’ll be like ‘man, that’s good enough for today.’ But then my coaches are like ‘you better get in there and go a little bit more.’ Sometimes you get kinda complacent; you kinda start feeling yourself a little too much and you get lazy and say, ‘I’m undefeated and I don’t think this guy’s gonna be able to do this.’ That’s when bad things start to happen – when you start believing in your own hype, reading your own press clippings and being your own biggest fan. I won’t let that happen.
Until next week…