Former UFC Lightheavy-weight champion ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans announced his retirement on Monday on Ariel Helwani’s new ESPN show.
It concluded one of the most storied careers in UFC history. Much like his contemporary Michael Bisping, who retired last month – he won everything there is to be won at the top of the game.
Rise to the Top
Evans, who would be considered for his size a natural Middleweight in the modern era, started his career as a heavy weight. He won the TUF 2 heavyweight tournament by beating 6 foot 7 giant Brad Imes.
Evans slowly transitioned into a Light-Heavyweight and racked up big wins over the likes of Stephen Bonnar, Michael Bisping and a devastating knockout over Chuck Liddell.
Then came his crowning moment, when he destroyed Forrest Griffin to become the new Light-Heavyweight Champion.
Rashad Evans can also be credited for making Albuquerque’s JacksonWink MMA academy relevant. He was the leader and the star of the gym during his time there. He was later forced to leave the gym with the emergence of rival Jon Jones. He then set up the ‘Blackzilians’ in South Florida.
Back to earth
Rashad Evans lost his title to Lyoto Machida at UFC 98, in UFC’s first ever title fight between unbeaten fighters.
Rashad Evans continued to be one of the top 5 light-heavy weights till 2013. He racked up wins over Chael Sonnen, Phil Davis, Tito Ortiz, Thiago Silva and ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
The beginning of the end
The beginning of the end started in 2014, when he was forced off UFC 170, where he was all set to welcome Daniel Cormier to the 205 lb division.
A series of injuries then followed which kept him out of the game for 2 years.
Rashad Evans returned a shell of himself in Oct, 2015.
Rashad Evans had consecutive losses to Ryan Bader and a brutal knockout loss to Glover Teixeira. Following the knockout loss, Evans opened up in a very emotional post fight interview.
”Where did I lose it?”
”Fighting..(emotional pause).. it used to come so easy, so naturally”
”Now, it seems likes I’m just fighting myself.”
Rashad Evans tried to make a move down to the 185 pound division and resurrect his career, but he lost a further 2 times on the trot.
Evans tried one last go in the Light-heavyweight division at UFC 225, but was stopped in the very first minute of the fight by up-and-comer Anthony Smith.
Rashad during his time in the UFC was one of the biggest PPV sellers and has sold 2 separate 1 million PPV events. He sold over 5 million PPV’s in the 9 events he headlined.
Estimated buys for Rashad Evans headlined PPVs (over 5m buys):
UFC 78 vs Bisping 400k
UFC 88 vs. Liddell 480k
UFC 92 vs. Griffin 1m
UFC 98 vs. Machida 635k
UFC 108 vs. Silva 300k
UFC 114 vs. Rampage 1.05m
UFC 133 vs. Ortiz 310k
UFC 145 vs. Jones 700k
UFC 161 vs. Hendo 140k#UFC
— Jed I. Goodman (@jedigoodman) June 25, 2018
He can be regarded as one of the pioneers of the UFC and a sure shot future HOF’er. Rashad Evans’ rivalry with ‘Rampage Jackson’ and Jon Jones are some of the most memorable in UFC history.
He started out as the brash trash talking champion and as his career progressed became one of the gentlemen of the sport.
He has the respect of almost all of the personnel in the MMA world.
Here’s a compilation from Social Media.
Here’s whats the journalists had to say.
Congrats to Rashad Evans (@SugaRashadEvans), who just announced his retirement to @arielhelwani on ESPN. Remarkable career. The buildup to his title fight against Jon Jones was one of the most memorable I've ever covered. From a journalist's perspective, always a great interview.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) June 25, 2018
Rashad Evans, 38, announces his retirement on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on ESPN. "At one point in my life, I felt as if fighting was everything. It *was* everything. I put life second. But now life has taken over." https://t.co/S1GnaysPxY
— Jeff Wagenheim (@jeffwagenheim) June 25, 2018
Much like Michael Bisping, Rashad Evans' career is decorated by a huge resume of accomplishments and a willingness to fight anyone and everyone put in front of him.
Rashad may be retired now but his accomplishments will live on forever. #UFC
— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) June 25, 2018
— Jim Edwards (@MMA_Jim) June 25, 2018
"Suga" Rashad Evans (19-8-1) retired Monday at age 38. The runt who upset the TUF 2 heavyweights, he excelled as a charismatic 205 spark plug with dogged wrestling and apt striking. All the best to the former champ, who beat the likes of Chuck, Tito, Rampage, Hendo, and Bisping. pic.twitter.com/RahLuljrXk
— Kyle Johnson (@Maldobabo) June 26, 2018
Here are some of his fellow fighters reactions.
@sugarashadevans retired today. Congrats on an amazing career my brother. I said recently that one of the best things about my fight career were the relationships and friendship I made along the way and Rashad is among one of the best people That I have met through MMA. Congrats once again my friend and I’m glad we got to share the octagon back in 2007 #respect we were both undefeated at 15-0 at this point, both ultimate fighter winners and both went on to become world champions. Pretty cool.
— Charles Rosa (@CharlesRosaMMA) June 25, 2018
Thank you @SugaRashadEvans for a great career. You’re a legend. It was such an honor to be able to share a card with you. Something I’ll never forget 🙏🏼
— Dan Ige (@Dynamitedan808) June 25, 2018
— Will Brooks (@ILLxWillBrooks) June 25, 2018
— Chris Tickle (@badboytickle) June 25, 2018
— Damien Brown (@beatdown155) June 25, 2018
— BJ Penn (@bjpenndotcom) June 25, 2018
‘Suga’ Rashad Evans, a pioneer of the sport achieved in his career only a few are ever likely to achieve. His body of work are sure to be remembered for a long time.
Thanks for the memories Rashad.