The following is a complete transcript of an interview with Rashad Evans, conducting by MMANews.com's own Luis Cruz earlier today (January 29, 2007). If you would rather listen to the interview, you can download it (MP3 format, 6MB in size) by clicking here.
Luis Cruz of MMANews.com: This is Luis Cruz here at MMANews.com, I'm joined now by UFC Light Heavyweight contender Rashad Evans. Rashad, or should I say “Sugar” Rashad Evans? What's up man?
Rashad Evans: [laughs] How you doing man?
MMANews.com: I'm doing alright. What's up with this “Sugar” thing?
Rashad Evans: Ahh, it's just a nickname that my trainers came up with because they say I move like “Sugar” Ray Robinson.
MMANews.com: Oh I thought it was because you're “sweet” [laughs]
Rashad Evans: [laughs] Oh yeah, that too!
MMANews.com: Alright man, you fought four days ago [and got the] impressive knockout [over Sean Salmon], how you feeling?
Rashad Evans: I'm feeling good man. I'm feeling real good. I was working on some things all camp and just to see them come together and pay off, that's as good as it goes.
MMANews.com: There was no injuries or anything sustained?
Rashad Evans: Nah, no injuries. I was fortunate enough to make it through with no injuries.
MMANews.com: Alright, now let's go ahead and go back to that fight real quick.
Rashad Evans: Alright.
MMANews.com: You struggled a little bit in round one with him.
Rashad Evans: Yeah, you know I was trying to work a few things and I didn't have much film on him. The film I had was like thirty seconds long. So I was kind of like learning it out there. But, you know – give him credit. He was tough. He was a good wrestler and he had really good transitions, so I give a lot of credit to him. He definitely frustrated me that first round.
MMANews.com: He had two great takedowns on you. Being the caliber wrestler you are, that's pretty impressive on his part.
Rashad Evans: Yeah, it is man. I had in my mind I wanted to stand up and strike with him so bad to the point where I kind of just neglected the whole wrestling thing. I just wanted to punch him and he took advantage of it and he stuck to his game plan and he was very aggressive and strong. Real strong.
MMANews.com: Now speaking of your striking, I noticed a little bit of a difference in your stand up game in this fight, compared to your other fights. Usually you keep both hands up and use a lot of head movement, so you're not a standing target. This fight I saw you had that left arm kind of extended out there, it was just kind of dangling there – and you weren't really using it for nothing, and you were throwing right hand after right hand. Were you super confident going into this fight?
Rashad Evans: Yeah, I was confident. I was really confident in my stand up and I just wanted to really get a knockout and put on a good show. I did a lot of things technically that I really shouldn't have done, as far as having my hands down, as far as throwing right hand after right hand, but I kind of got stuck on something in the first round [because I] caught him with the right hand – and I couldn't abandon it in my mind. I just got stuck on throwing that right hand because I thought I could finish him with it and I kind of got sloppy and didn't set it up. I went back to my corner and my coach was just saying you gotta settle down and set up your punches and everything. He said you got to get back to your game plan. And I was like “ok, ok ok.” I was really upset and I was like – I just gotta keep my mind right.
MMANews.com: Now you mentioned you landed a nice right hand. You guys were in a clinch at one point in that fight, against the fence and he pushed off and landed a beautiful right hand on you. I mean it looked like it was everything he had and it jerked your head to the side, that was about it – you pretty much walked through it. Did he have no power in his striking or do you just have a very good chin?
Rashad Evans: Umm, I don't know man. I don't remember the punch. I'm used to getting punched real hard in practice I guess and I guess I got a good chin. But now that I think back I do remember him hitting me and [when hit] I was like “ok, ok” but I didn't, you know I was like…at that point I was like “ok, now you wanna go!” I got really pissed off at him and I was like, “ok, now it's on.” And I just wanted to really hurt him at that point.
MMANews.com: Speaking of that, wanting to hurt him – the weigh-ins. You guys at the face-off you went right into his face and you normally don't act like that. You looked totally serious. What happened, was this like a grudge match or something?
Rashad Evans: Nah, you know it's like I said I had to change gears and let him know that I'm here to fight and it's not going to be a wrestling match and we're not going to be friends before the fight. I'm not gonna be shaking your hand, I'm not gonna be tryin' to pal around with you – I'm gonna be trying to knock your block off and I'll let you know from the start. I'm gonna try and knock your block off and I hope you come to do the same.
MMANews.com: Alright, I heard some rumblings that maybe he was talking a little trash during the build-up…
Rashad Evans: ..well he was, he was. He was talking his trash man, telling everyone he was gonna whoop me and I don't have any hands and this, that and the other. I'm like, “ok.” So, he's trying to say I suck and everything and he's gonna take my fans and everything and I'm like “ok, I'll see what's up, ok.”
MMANews.com: Now was your game plan to set up that high kick that you were – you threw about two of them in the first round and obviously that knockout one [in the second]. Was that your game plan to throw a couple of punches and then set up that kick?
Rashad Evans: Yeah, I was working on it all camp. They were saying, set up the high kick because he's susceptible to it. That's what I was doing, but I was going to the well too many times trying to get my timing down on it. But I knew I was going to catch him with it sooner or later. When he came out in that second round and he was tired, I was like “ooh, I got him”, I smelt it. And I just thought I'm gonna destroy this dude this round. He came out the second round and he's standing up and I'm looking across the ring and he was waiving his arms up, you know, trying to get the crowd into it. I was like, I know he's tired because I remember seeing him at the end of the first period, he was breathing out of his mouth real heavy and he wasn't really moving well anymore. I was like “aww, he's tired” and I was like why ain't he sitting down? In the start of the second round he came out and touched my glove and he kind of took a step back and he got kind of relaxed and he looked real slow, so I was like I'm gonna kill this dude this round.
MMANews.com: Now he did expend a lot of energy when he took you down in the first round and he started working a little bit of a ground and pound there. You started working to get up and you obviously got up to your feet, I think that was a point where he expended most of his energy.
Rashad Evans: Yeah. I get a lot of practice on the ground, man. A lot of times in practice I start off on the ground and let my teammates, you know, they work in their positioning and I'm working with Keith Jardine and Nate Marquardt and those guys and they're strong as hell and really good. So, when I was on the bottom with him [Salmon] I was like “ok, I've been here before” and I was just going to take my time in getting up and see what he's got. Then I was like “ok, now I'm up again.” The first time he took me down I attributed it to the kick because he caught me with a kick and I was like “ok”, but then the second time I was like “ok, this dude's got some good takedowns” I was like “whoa!”
MMANews.com: Now, you got the huge knockout. Obviously it's very early in the year but that is the knockout of the year, thus far and it probably will hold for a little while. That was impressive. Now, he was down for how long? At least ten minutes after that?
Rashad Evans: Yeah. He didn't walk out of the ring on his own accord, he came out on a stretcher. And that was the real scary part. It was all entertainment and fun, and we put our bodies on the line, you really never prepare yourself to see one of your opponents or anyone leaving on a stretcher.
MMANews.com: Yeah, we definitely don't want to see anybody seriously injured in this sport. We got a great track record up 'til this point. Now you had the huge knockout here, the great stoppage of [Jason] Lambert, you pretty much knocked him out too – that's two in a row man. That's two very impressive stoppages in a row. How do you feel, how happy are you?
Rashad Evans: I'm really happy, you know? It shows that, my game's been strong and I'm getting more confidence than anything inside the octagon and I think that's the most important thing when you're fighting at this level – it's doing what you do in practice and transferring it over to actually when you're out there. Because when you're out there, things are a little different. Like I was saying before, in practice I start on my back and things of that nature and I work to get up, but in a fight it feels like you can just feel it, I felt everybody just like saying “oh my god, Rashad's on his back!” And everybody's in shock and everybody's thinking this is not supposed to be happening and everybody is getting nervous for me because they've never seen me in that position before and you feel that, you know what I mean? You feel that. And it reminds me of when I was in high school and I was like number one in my section, you know, the whole state and I was wrestling this kid in the first round and he was a kid I was supposed to beat and I was supposed to destroy him. I go out there and in the first twenty seconds this guy puts me on my back. And he holds me on my back, I've got to fight off my back and try not to get pinned. The whole two minutes, you know, I'm trying to fight off my back. And I could just feel everyone looking and pointing and saying “wow, Rashad's not gonna get up.”
MMANews.com: So that was adreneline?
Rashad Evans: Yeah, I feel everybody just looking and saying “what's going on” and everybody yelling and concerned. That's like the only difference though. When you get comfortable in a ring, there's nothing in there that can rattle you. You're gonna have your ups and downs in there. You're gonna get beat sometimes and you'll be alright.
MMANews.com: You were obviously the main event, how much did that effect you in preparing for this fight and when you actually got in there did that add to the nerves?
Rashad Evans: It didn't bother me, truthfully, until I got there and like the day before. The day before I was just like “damn, I'm the main event” and everybody had the pressure on me and then I felt it. I felt like I had the whole success of the show on my shoulders. Because when you're on Spike TV you really have to be entertaining because people can turn the channel. On like a PPV, you're gonna watch it no matter what, but when you're on Spike TV you have to be so entertaining because people can change the channel and they'll lose ratings and the show that they had that they're trying to boost off won't do so well because people turn the channel because you bore them to death. And I didn't want that on my shoulders, you know? Everybody says I'm a boring fighter, lay and pray and what not…
MMANews.com: I don't think they'll be saying that anymore [laughs]
Rashad Evans: [laughs] Hope not.
MMANews.com: Alright, I'm going to shift gears here real quick. I've read a quote from another interview I guess you did recently right before your fight. Actually, I didn't write the quote down but it said, they quoted you as saying you would knock Rampage [Quinton Jackson] out, is that true did you say that?
Rashad Evans: No, I didn't say it quite like that. Somebody asked me “what do you think of Rampage” and I was like Rampage is my man, and I've got a tremendous amount of respect for him, I'm a big fan of his. And they were like “ok, if you had to fight him, what would you do?” and I said I'd have to knock Rampage out.
MMANews.com: Oh ok, so you would have to knock him out [if you fought each other]?
Rashad Evans: Yeah, that's how it was, it wasn't like I was out there talking trash because that's not in me. But if I fight him, I'm gonna try and knock his ass, you know knock him out, shit. You know?
MMANews.com: Now in the quote it sounded like funny to me, didn't sound like something that would come out of your mouth so I wanted to verify it with you.
Rashad Evans: Yeah.
MMANews.com: Alright, back to the fight. At the post-fight presser, there was a couple of rumblings about a conversation between you and Dana [White]. I guess the media asked him something about you and [Keith] Jardine fighting?
Rashad Evans: Uh-huh.
MMANews.com: Could you tell us exactly what was said there?
Rashad Evans: Umm, somebody asked Dana or they said, “Rashad, are you going to fight Keith?” and I said, “no, I'm not fighting Keith” and Dana was like “yeah, you're gonna fight Keith” and I said “I'm not gonna fight Keith”, you know? That was basically it. He was telling me we're gonna fight and I was telling him I won't fight him.
MMANews.com:Now what if they actually…I don't know if it was in a joking manner or what with Dana, he's hard to read but let's see he puts the contracts down to you guys – what happens?
Rashad Evans: I don't do it. I don't do it. I don't fight my family, I don't fight people that I train with day in and day out – that I go through trials and tribulations with, you know? I don't do it. There's not enough money that's worth that, you know what I mean? Because you can spend money and everything else but you can't recover that friendship and that love that you lost, you know?
MMANews.com: Now I know some people can fight each other and they can pretty much brush it away like it never happened when it's over. But I can understand where you're coming from because I picture myself fighting my best friend and I just can't see it, you know what I mean? You're not going to give it your all, it's a bad position to be in I can understand that. And I know Keith feels the same way because I actually talked to him about this a little while ago.
Rashad Evans: Yeah.
MMANews.com: Now would you guys actually put your careers on the line, like if he threatened to get rid of you guys if you didn't fight each other?
Rashad Evans: Nah, I don't think he would do something like that. But, no he'll ask for it and people will probably want to see it, but if it came to the point where you're number one and I'm number two or vice-versa, or our paths have to cross for one of us to get a title shot, then I would switch weight classes or just avoid it altogether, you know what I'm saying?
MMANews.com: I don't think that's really necessary. But obviously you guys are both up there in the Light Heavyweight division now with impressive wins, but I mean Babalu [Renato Sobral] is still out there, Tito Ortiz is still out there, I mean they got options here. I don't see why they would actually have to make this fight.
Rashad Evans: Yeah, I mean the thing about UFC and they've been really good at whatever they do and their marketing, they have excellent marketing and they do a great job of bringing people fights that they want to see. And that's something that's maybe tempting to them just because it's something they can actually cash in on and people would wanna see it, but at the same time it's at our expense. I don't think we'd do it.
MMANews.com: Alright, so what's next for you? I mean you got two impressive wins here, you got to be right up there I mean Tito Ortiz just lost, Babalu lost to Chuck [Liddell] already, you and Keith gotta be moving up there close to title contention.
Rashad Evans: I don't know. I think that they want to bring me along a little bit more and build me up to be more of a draw. Maybe, fortunately I get a couple more wins and then my stock will continue to grow and they'll want to have me in a big show at one point. For right now, I think they just want to kind of build me. Because Dana is talking about it'll be a year or so before I get a title shot.
MMANews.com: Oh ok, so you guys have already talked about this?
Rashad Evans: Well I mean that's what I kind of figured anyways and I said it, and then that's what he was saying and pretty much thinking anyways, so.
MMANews.com: Let's say you're wrong and they offer you it [a title fight] tomorrow. Do you take the fight?
Rashad Evans: Umm, yeah I'd take the fight. I mean would I like a little more time? Yeah, because I'm a young fighter and I'm still growing and a lot of things like that. I don't wanna just fight for a title, you know? A lot of people say “oh, I wanna fight for the title” but you fight for the title and lose, then what?
MMANews.com: Have to climb the ladder again.
Rashad Evans: Yeah, exactly. I'd rather climb it once and just make sure it was a good climb. Instead of going out there and not do well at all.
MMANews.com: I think Chuck would be busy anyway. Obviously Rampage has to get by [Marvin] Eastman, and then I wouldn't doubt if try and put them two together before the end of this year. So you might have a good year before you get the title shot.
Rashad Evans: Oh yeah. Yeah, and it all depends on if I'm blessed enough to continue to win the way I am, you know? That all depends too. I mean I really just take one fight at a time and enjoy it just as that, one fight at a time because when you start looking ahead you kind of lose sight of what's right in front of you and sometimes that's the most important thing.
MMANews.com: Alright Rashad. Before I let you go, any sponsors you want to mention, anything you want to say to your fans and the new fans you probably made [laughs]?
Rashad Evans: I would just like to thank TapouT, United Nissan, Australia Zoo Wildlife and just everybody who supports me. Definitely would like to thank my fans. And all the fans I didn't have, all the fans that didn't believe in me. And everybody in general for supporting MMA and making it the premier combat sport in the world.