I know it covers familiar territory, but I still want to post to link to this article:
s a year that has been marred by an ugly falling-out with his long-time training camp and two injuries approaches its end, former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans finds himself at a crossroads.
Here are five reasons why a move down the weight-class ladder is the right thing to do for Rashad, for the remainder of his fight career and beyond:
1. He would finish fights far more often: Dating back to (and including) his fights on Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter, Rashad has fought 14 opponents who are 6'0" and up, and has finished a grand total of three of them - Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, and Tito Ortiz (at UFC 133). By contrast, Rashad has finished both of the opponents under 6'0" he has faced over the same period - Jason Lambert and Sean Salmon, both of whom moved down to middleweight afterwards. More revealing yet, Rashad has only one "clean-sweep" unanimous decision; that is to say, 30-27 or better on all three judges' scorecards, over a 6'0" or larger opponent over this span - his win over Mike Whitehead in his second fight on TUF 2. At middleweight, Rashad would get to face opponents closer to his own height - which was actually listed at 5'9" on the UFC's own web site during the airing of TUF 2 - much more frequently, and could thus be expected to finish a lot more fights. This would greatly enhance his popularity with the fan base, which has been a serious issue with Rashad throughout his career, and may have a lot to do with why Rashad keeps getting passed up for title shots - something that may very well happen again, with Dan Henderson poised to potentially leap-frog Rashad and be tabbed to face the winner of the Jon Jones-Lyoto Machida fight at UFC 140, coming off a win over Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139 in what is widely being hailed as one of the half-dozen or so most epic MMA fights of all time.
2. The UFC light heavyweight division has undergone a seismic change in recent years, much to the detriment of the division's smaller fighters, with the emergence of not only Jon Jones, but also the likes of Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson and Kyle Kingsbury - so much so that in the past four years, no fewer than 16 current or former UFC light heavyweights have moved down to middleweight: Michael Bisping, Tim Boetsch, Antwain Britt, Todd Brown, Luiz Artur Cane, Steve Cantwell, Alexandre Ferreira, Josh Haynes, Keith Jardine, Jason Lambert, Court McGee, Mark Munoz, Trevor Prangley, Sean Salmon, Wanderlei Silva, and Brian Stann. And to further demonstrate this trend, four years ago Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who is listed at 5'10", was ranked in the top 10 in the world at light heavyweight by at least one source (Sherdog). Today, Rashad is the only light heavyweight under 6'0" who would even be ranked in the top 25.
3. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva isn't getting any younger - and will reach the pivotal age of 37 on April 14th. And what makes that age "pivotal"? A while backSports Illustrated ran an in-depth an article on "The Curse of 37" and how it has proved the ruin of many an athlete in many a sport, including, not at all irrelevant to the matter at hand, Chuck Liddell. Current UFC light heavyweight title-holder Jon Jones, by stark contrast, is 24 years old.
4. If Rashad moved down to middleweight and won the UFC title there, it would guarantee his induction into the UFC Hall Of Fame on the grounds of his having won titles in two different weight classes. He would not necessarily be assured of achieving that honor by merely regaining the light heavyweight crown.
5. Carrying excess weight around can lead to extremely serious health problems later in life, most notably heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes - conditions for which Rashad is already at elevated risk as an African-American.
So the case would appear to be open and shut:
Rashad must move down to middleweight, at least - and "at least" because Rashad and Josh Koscheck wrestled at the same weight class in their respective senior years in college, and Koscheck has done quite well in MMA as a welterweight; and with the help of Mike Dolce, who has claimed that he can transform Roy Nelson into a force at middleweight, there is no reason to doubt that Rashad could get all the way down to welterweight.
But under the circumstances, a move to middleweight would be more practical - and highly advisable.