With UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva seemingly running short on contenders in his own division, fans and pundits alike have begun to look at other classes to bring him a proper challenge.
Rashad Evans (17-2-1 MMA, 12-2-1 UFC) is one the of the names being tossed about, but "Suga" isn't so sure he'd take the fight Ė even though he feels confident he'd walk away victorious.
"I'm not a good matchup for him," Evans told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "I'm sure he's not chomping at the bit to fight me. He doesn't really have anything to gain from fighting me, so I don't know if he would even want to fight me. I don't know why he would go out of his way to fight somebody like me. If the UFC is not going to make him fight me, then I don't see why he would fight me.
"Besides that, I love Anderson. He's a great guy outside of the cage, and he's one of my favorite fighters to watch inside the cage. To me, to fight him would be a little bittersweet because I know I would beat him. I know I would beat him."
The 5-foot-11 Evans actually made his UFC debut as a heavyweight, defeating Brad Imes in the final bout of "The Ultimate Fighter 2" to claim that season's tournament title. He immediately dropped to light heavyweight, where he became UFC champion in 2008 with a win over Forrest Griffin. He would later surrender the title to Lyoto Machida, and he recently failed in a bid to gain it back by losing a unanimous decision to former friend and training partner Jon Jones.
That was nine months ago, and Evans admits he needed a little time away from the sport to again find his motivation.
"After you climb the top of the mountain and you don't get where you want to go and you kind of fall down a bit, it takes a little bit of a mental break to help to kind of recuperate and get yourself feeling right to get back out there and climb that mountain again," Evans admitted. "I did find the motivation again, but it was difficult.
"That fight with Jones, it took a lot out of me emotionally more than anything. Not having the results I wanted, it was a bit of a heartbreak for me. It was just more a relief that that part was over in my life. I had to kind of come to peace with everything and the way things happened, and it was kind of closing a chapter in my life. That was something important for me to have happen."
Evans kept busy by working with FUEL TV as a UFC analyst, and he hopes he can transition in a full-time broadcasting gig when his fighting days are over. But he's not ready to make that switch just yet.
Instead, he now meets Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (20-5 MMA, 3-2 UFC) at this weekend's UFC 156 event in Las Vegas. The bout serves as the co-main event on the evening's pay-per-view broadcast.
Evans is a heavy favorite in the fight, and some pundits wondered aloud why the fight was booked with "Little Nog" struggling through a 1-2 stretch. However, Evans said the fight booking provided plenty of motivation for him, and he's looking forward to competing against such a respected opponent.
"I have huge respect for the Nogueira brothers and the legacies that both of them have created," Evans said. "At the end of the day, when my career is said and done, I want to say that I competed against some of the best guys in the business, and he's somebody that I consider one of the best guys in the business. He and his brother are both legends, and I'm excited to compete against him.
"'Little Nog' took some time off, and I think that kind of refreshes the body both physically and mentally. With the time off and a fresh feel, not to mention the fact that he's got incredible heart, I'm expecting a good fight. I'm going to go out there and put on a good performance and bring it."
But what comes next isn't exactly clear. His fight with Jones was one of the most anticipated of 2012, but the champ's victory was undeniable. A rematch wouldn't seem to be in the cards for quite some time, but Evans isn't fully letting go of the possibility.
"I still watch Jon, and I love to see him fight," Evans said. "I love to see his creativity. I still watch him, and I still want to get a chance to fight him again. I know and I believe that if I fight him again, things will definitely be different. I feel like I've got what it takes to beat him. I've studied his game, and I know it. I feel like it would be a different fight this time around.
"I'm just excited to climb the ladder again, and however long it takes, it takes, but I'm a student of the game, and that's what I want to continue to be. I want another chance to fight for the belt, and when I do, it will be worthwhile for me."
So what about a quick trip to middleweight for a meeting with Silva? While fans have asked about it, the matchup doesn't seem to be a part of the UFC's immediate plans. And for that matter, Evans isn't even sure he could make the weight.
"I would have to do a practice cut and see what would happen before I even would agree to something like that," Evans said. "It's kind of hard for me to make 205 sometimes. So 185, I don't know what I'd have to do. I'd probably have to lose some weight in my legs or something, and I don't know how to do that."
He's also not looking past the challenge ahead of him this weekend, even if others might be.
"They're overlooking Nogueira, but I'm not," Evans said. "They've already got me winning the fight and wanting to fight at 185. But for me, it's first things first, and that's fighting Nogueira. That's the only thing I really care about right now. Anderson is I guess a fantasy fight. It has to be the right deal for it to even happen.
"It's just a matter of getting that belt back around my waist. I just want to go out there and compete with the best guys. If I get a chance to fight Jon Jones or Anderson Silva or whoever may have the belt at the time, that's what it's about. I just want to go out there and compete and have fun competing."
For more on UFC 156, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.