Addressing the media for their main event at UFC 133, Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz took to the media conference call this afternoon. Rashad seemed comfortable, and more eager than anything at getting back into the Octagon. The former champ seemed to respect his opponent, but finding his stride again was clearly his priority.
“Well you know, I think Tito’s definitely got a lot better in his striking from what I’ve seen his last few fights. Just from his movement and where he is when he finishes his combinations, but I’m not going to be worried about his striking to be honest. What I need to worry about is my own execution, and as long as I worry about my execution, it doesn’t matter what Tito Ortiz does.”
When asked about having anything to prove after drawing in their last bout, Rashad responded. “I just want to really feel good in there and take my time, and be patient. Not try to rush for things. Just try to see where the fight goes. I don’t have in my mind where I want to take the fight yet. I just want to go in there and see what Tito Ortiz is doing, and where the fight is going to go, and take it to where I want it to go.”
About the first fight, Rashad admitted that it still stings to this day. “I feel horrible about the performance. I felt horrible about the performance for years. It’s one of those fights you just want to get back. Just young and inexperienced at that level. I didn’t get my mind wrapped about the situation until it was a little too late, but I’m a long ways from there right now.”
Asked about his new training camp, Rashad said, “training’s been great, man. I got some really good training partners out here, and some really good coaches. I couldn’t be happier. I didn’t really know how things were going to be coming from the Greg Jackson camp. I wasn’t thinking there could be another situation to rival that one, but I was pleased to find out that things here are very good. A great team and great training partners, and we got this energy in the gym that is amazing… It makes the grind of training that much easier.”
Both fighters were asked about Philadelphia’s historical importance in the fighting community, to which Rashad responded. “I’ve never been in Philly before, but I’m a big Rocky fan. I want to fight in Philly. I just think about Rocky, but it’s not just that. There’s a lot of fighters out of Philly that I’m huge fans of like Bernard Hopkins. It’s great to be fighting in a city that has that great fighting history, because those fans get up for it, and it makes it that much easier for me to get up for it. Because you can feel the energy right before I walk out and do that long walk to the cage. The energy that I get the minute those curtains raise, and then they play that music, and the fans are just going crazy, that’s the energy I take when I go into that cage. It’s very important, and it happening in a city like Philly with that great fight history will definitely bring me to my highest before I step into this cage.”
Toward the end of the call, when asked about UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon ‘Bones’ Jones, Rashad answered with a grim and effortless, “I don’t like Jon Jones.” Silence abided for a moment until the subject was changed.
Rashad’s last fight saw him defeat arch-nemesis Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson by unanimous decision in May 2010 at UFC 114. While the layoff may be a concern to some, Evans has become known to fans worldwide for his work ethic, cutting edge training techniques, and his overall level of fitness. It is thought that a win over Ortiz will place the former champion in a 2012 title fight with the winner of Jones and ‘Rampage,’ once they settle their own feud at UFC 135 in September.
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