A recent article posted on ESPN.com by Franklin McNeil has stirred up a bit of controversy having brought about a tense exchange between UFC President Dana White and current number one light heavyweight contender Rashad Evans.
Evans earned a shot at champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s belt back in May when he defeated rival Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, but has been on the shelf since waiting for Rua to recover from a knee surgery. In the article, Evans is quoted as saying that the wait has been “frustrating” and, “… if the gold is something that I’m not going to get an opportunity to fight for then I have to face that possibility and move forward and do some other things. If I don’t get the chance to fight for the belt, I will never ask to fight for this belt again. I will never want to fight for that belt again.”
When contacted for a response, a puzzled Dana White offered, “That’s the weirdest comment I have ever heard in my life. [Rashad] is scheduled to fight in March. We offered him a fight in September; he turned it down. He said he didn’t want to harm his brand. I don’t know what the Rashad Evans brand is, or what that means, but he said he didn’t want to harm it. It’s not like we were keeping him from fighting, he chose to wait for Shogun. It’s not our fault; Shogun had knee surgery.”
Being described as having thinning patience and also being quoted expressing vexation over the absence of an interim title bout, Evans took to his Twitter account recently to clear things up from the article in which he felt his position was misrepresented.
“Let me address this article that was put out.. First of all im not impatient about waiting 4 Rua 2 heal especially since it was my choice 2wait!,” Evans posted. “The UFC did offer me a fight since Rua was gonna b out so long against Lil’Nog. But I turned it down cuz the fight made no sense 2 me”
Evans explained that he knew early on that an interim title was not an option and accepted the consequences of waiting as it was the choice that he made.
“A fight with Machida would’ve made more sense but they matched him up with Rampage,” Evans wrote. “Dana White told me from the beginning they wouldn’t do Interm belt. So @ that point I decided I wait. [Now] in this article it makes me sound as if I’m upset about waiting which is not the case.”
The source of frustration, Evans Tweeted, was the lack of consistency concerning Rua’s projected return date; not the fact that he had to wait for that date.
“What frustrated me was I was hearing conflicting stories of when he was coming back,” posted Evans. “One moment Dana would say May then in the article he said the fight is scheduled 4 March. Also Rua manager said he will b out maybe longer than June. So I was frustrated on how the dates r ranging..But like I said I chose 2 wait. But I had a clear idea on when the return may happen then it would effect choices I take.”
While Evans waits for Rua to recover so that they may determine who deserves to hold the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, the next contenders in line will likely become more clear after pivotal bouts between former champions Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and bright 205-pound prospects Jon “Bones” Jones and Ryan “Darth” Bader. With a new contender likely to be established and standing by, hopefully the winner of the eventual bout between Evans and Rua won’t have to wait long to attempt to defend their belt.