November 16, 2013.

That is the last time former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans stepped inside the UFC Octagon. For nearly two years now, Evans has been battling injury and working to get back in the cage. On Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, at UFC 192, Evans will not only return to competition, he will be looking to stake his claim to the next UFC light heavyweight title shot.

Evans will face former Arizona State standout and fellow TUF winner, Ryan Bader, who is riding a four-fight win streak. Coming off of a long layoff, against a big, powerful wrestler like Bader, Evans is going to have his hands full. But Evans has more than enough tools to get the job done on Saturday night.

Shake Off the Rust

Two years is a long time to be out of the cage. No matter how hard Evans has been working in training, you can’t truly simulate the toll a fight takes on the body. Cage rust is very will and it will be a factor early on in this bout. Those first three minutes of the first round will be the most important minutes of the fight for Evans. The sooner he can find his range and timing, the better off he will be against Bader.

Avoid Bader’s Power

Even though Evans has only been knocked out once in his career, he can’t afford to eat many of Bader’s shots; Evans needs to fight smart and dictate the distance. Bader has legit one-punch knockout power and if he can find his range and land, Evans could be in a world of trouble.

Win the Takedown Battle

Bader is one of the biggest, most physically imposing light heavyweights in the UFC today and during his four-fight win streak he has gotten back to his wrestling roots. Bader has been able to neutralize his opponents’ striking by taking them to the ground. Even though Evans is not necessarily a knockout threat, look for Bader to continue using his wrestling.

Evans simply cannot win this fight if Bader is able to secure top position. Bader has a heavy top game and strong ground-and-pound. Evans needs to win the takedown battle and he really needs to stay off the bottom all together. Evans should be able to do this because even though Bader was the better collegiate wrestler, Evans is the better functional MMA wrestler.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report,, and RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.