It is easy to forget an athlete in the world in professional sports. One bad year or an injury can remove him from the conversation of who is the best in his field. Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is in such a position. Six years after his stint as champion, perhaps it is time for one last run by the man known as Suga.
It’s been nearly two years since Evans has appeared in the Octagon. At UFC 167 in November 2013, he beat up former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen and has since not competed in the sport. Instead, he’s worked as an analyst of sorts for Fox Sports while hinting at a potential return to the cage.
Unfortunately, Evans’ body has continued to fail him. He was expected to face current champion Daniel Cormier in a bout at UFC 170, but a leg injury forced him off the card. This was the second fight he would miss due to a knee injury, as a bout against Alexander Gustafsson was also cancelled.
Now, Evans is eyeing a potential return in September and has targeted Ryan Bader as an opponent. Ariel Helwani revealed this information on UFC Tonight.
Evans vs. Bader would benefit both men.
For Evans, this would be an opportunity to cement himself as someone who is still relevant in the sport. While the UFC ranks him as No. 3 in the division, he hasn’t done much to maintain that spot in the last few years.
Bader, on the other hand, has continued to surge up the ladder. He’s riding a four-fight win streak that’s pushed him to the No. 4 position in the weight class. His recent antics with Cormier have helped him garner a level of attention that will only build his star power within the UFC, according to Fox Sports.
The UFC could use one more run from Evans because he’s one of the only individuals who have proved the ability to get attention that translates into television views and pay-per-view buys.
According to the MMA Payout Blue Book, Evans is one of the few individuals to headline an event that brought in one million PPV buys with UFC 114. At UFC 145, Evans vs. Jon Jones brought in 700,000 buys, which is another number that the organization has struggled to consistently hit. The UFC needs that type of name power to drive up PPV numbers at this point in time.
Evans held the UFC 205-pound title briefly. Nevertheless, he has a history of attracting mainstream coverage and interest from fans. At 35 years of age and nearly two years away from fighting, he’s preparing himself for another run toward the top of the sport. Both the UFC and Evans will benefit from one last run to close out what has been an injury-plagued but still successful career.
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