Rashad “Suga” Evans has never been shy, nor has he been accused of being too reserved. He’s one of a few fighters in the UFC that speak their mind no matter what, for better or worse. We got to see the Evans hype machine in full effect when he took on his former training partner, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, at UFC 145.

Evans hasn’t contained his comments to his weight division either. Instead, he has made it a point to call out UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Whether or not Evans truly believes he can take down “The Spider” is irrelevant, because Evans knows it’s a big-money fight. At this point in his career, the former UFC light heavyweight champ knows he likely won’t get another title shot at 205 pounds as long as Jones is around. So, big-money fights are where the action is at for “Suga.”

Yet, that isn’t where Evans finds himself at UFC 156. Matched up against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Evans faces a fighter whose name value means more than the fighter’s place in the UFC rankings. It’s a risky venture for Evans because he has virtually nothing to gain, but stands to lose everything.

Despite losing (and losing badly) to Jones, Evans is still regarded as one of the best light heavyweights in the world. A loss would certainly derail those thoughts and any hopes of facing “The Spider” or any other marquee opponent.

Evans shouldn’t have a problem dispatching Nogueira, who hasn’t been anywhere near as good as he once was in Pride. But what if the unthinkable happens and “Lil Nog” pulls off the upset? Where would Evans take his career?

It almost certainly would be out of the light heavyweight division, which means a change could be coming in the Blackzilian training camp. Evans broke into the UFC by competing as an undersized heavyweight on season two of The Ultimate Fighter.We’ve seen smaller heavyweights like Daniel Cormier and Randy Couture have success in the land of the big boys, but that doesn’t look like a viable option for Evans.

That leaves the door open for a trip in the other direction—down to middleweight, where he’d likely find himself ranked in the top 10 and in the hunt for a title shot. Although the opportunity to compete for a title while chasing the big payday of facing “The Spider” is an enticing idea, it would also require a drastic lifestyle change for the former UFC champ.

Fighters are creatures of habit, in that every minute of every day has a meaning. One slip up can cause a fighter to lose focus while losing valuable time, something that can’t be made up. The same applies to a fighter’s diet. When you’ve done something for so long, it’s hard to break that habit, especially if it requires putting more work in and eating less food. It’s a big commitment that the seasoned veteran Evans may not want to endure.

If he loses to Nogueira, we will see where Evans sees himself. Should Evans believe he’s still a championship-caliber fighter, expect to see him drop down to 185 pounds, where the road to a title shot is much more open. If Evans wishes to make the most money he can while still in the game, expect to see him stay at 205 pounds while bumping up to heavyweight if a big fight presents itself.

All fighters like to be in control of their own destiny. Unfortunately for Evans, that destiny could become very clouded should he not find his hand raised on Saturday night.

Photo: Rashad Evans (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.