Rashad Evans Preparing for Title Defense Like a 'Guy Trying to Break In'

Four years ago, Rashad Evans was just another guy trying to make a name for himself on The Ultimate Fighter. Now he's the champion of the UFC's most talented division, and he's getting ready to defend his title against the undefeated Lyoto Machida at UFC 98.

In an interview this week, Evans said that despite Machida's unorthodox style, he's still preparing the way he always does -- like he's still just another guy trying to make a name for himself. Evans also talked about his experiences on The Ultimate Fighter and his goal of breaking Anderson Silva's record for most consecutive UFC wins. The full interview is below.

Michael David Smith: With a couple of weeks to go before your fight with Lyoto Machida, how much does his unique style affect your preparation?
Rashad Evans: Not much at all.

Really?
I try not to worry too much about anyone else. I think too much attention is paid to how unique his style is. Whenever you prepare for a fight, every fighter has a different way about him. No two fighters are exactly alike. The problems that he presents are pretty much the same as the problems any other fighter presents, as far as my having to prepare for him. His style is not like a lot of people's, but the principles are all the same no matter who you're fighting.

Do you have sparring partners who can imitate his style?
Yeah, I've got my regular training partners who try to mimic what he does. But like I said, it's still all about preparing for an MMA fight and not so much preparing for one style.

Some people think Lyoto's style is boring. Do you agree with that?
No, I don't think it's boring. i think it's really good. I like watching Lyoto fight. He's very accurate and he's very precise.

Have you watched a lot of film of him?
Yeah. Always. I always watch a lot of film.

You guys have faced three of the same opponents: Sam Hoger, Stephan Bonnar and Tito Ortiz. Is there anything you can glean from seeing how he faced a fighter that you've also faced?
Not really, because those fights happened in different stages of our careers. It's hard to compare.

You're actually listed as an underdog, even though you're the champion. Does that bother you?
No, of course not. It wouldn't be a Rashad Evans fight if I wasn't the underdog.

It was only four years ago that you were just a guy trying to make it on The Ultimate Fighter. Have you gotten used to the fact that you're a world champion?
No. I still train like I'm a guy trying to break in.

Were you disappointed that you couldn't fight Rampage Jackson?
No, not at all. I thought Lyoto was more deserving than Rampage anyway.

Why?
He's better.

After UFC 96 you and Rampage had a little bit of a trash talking session. Do you dislike Rampage?
No, actually, I like Rampage a lot. I think he's really funny and charismatic. But I still want to beat his ass some day.

Who have you been training with to get ready to fight Machida?
Georges St Pierre came down, Keith Jardine has been a big help like he always is, Nate Marquardt has been a big help, Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson has been a big help, David Louiseau. A lot of people help me to get ready.

All of those guys train with Greg Jackson. What is it that makes Greg Jackson such a good trainer?
I think it's just the way he relates to each of his fighters. He has good relationships with all of us and he tries hard to understand all of us. He knows how to communicate with each of us, and we all have ways of communicating differently but he finds ways to communicate with every person directly.

Do you have goals you set for yourself in the sport?
I want to get Anderson Silva's record for the most consecutive wins in the UFC, with nine, keep the belt and then break that record.

Would you like to fight Anderson Silva?
Sure. I'd love to fight Anderson Silva.

What do you think of his upcoming fight with your last opponent, Forrest Griffin?
I think it's going to be a good fight. I think Forrest Griffin is going to perform well because when he's an underdog and everybody thinks he doesn't have a chance, that's when he's at his best. That's when Forrest Griffin is most dangerous. Silva is very, very good and he probably will win the fight. But I don't think it's going to be easy. I think Forrest is going to give him some trouble.

I also wanted to ask you about The Ultimate Fighter. Do you have any advice for those young guys who are doing the show now?
Just enjoy it. When you're doing a show like that it feels like it's never going to end and I wish I had enjoyed it a little bit. You should have fun doing it.

When you were on the show, Matt Hughes was one of the coaches, and he was critical of you. Now you're in the main event at UFC 98 and he's in the co-main event. What do you think of Matt Hughes now and what do you think of his fight with Matt Serra?
I've got nothing but love for Matt Hughes. I've got nothing but respect for him because as a champion he's already done what I want to do, have a successful run as champion. I think his fight with Serra is a great fight between two fighters who are in the same spot in their careers right now. It's going to be an interesting fight to see. I don't know who's going to win, and I like both guys, but I think if Matt Hughes goes in there just trying to kill Matt Serra, he might get caught with something. But I think if he goes in there patient and lets the fight develop, then it'll go to Matt Hughes.

Hughes and Serra make no secret that they're motivated for this fight because they dislike each other. What about you? Does disliking your opponent help motivate you?
Not really. I remember when I fought Tito Ortiz, I got caught up too much in that. I'm the kind of fighter who doesn't need to fight angry or upset. I fight because I love to fight, I love the competition.

What about the flip side, fighting someone you really like personally? I know Keith Jardine has said he wouldn't fight you. Do you feel the same way?
Of course. Jardine is my No. 1 training partner. I couldn't go through a camp without him. There's just no way I could go into the Octagon and fight him. I would rather retire.

That's a bold statement.
It's the truth.

What do you hope is next for you after the fight on May 23?
After I fight Lyoto, God willing I'll come out of that fight with my health. Then I'll go home and spend some time with my family, and hopefully I'll fight again in September or October. I just hope 2009 is a great year of growing, and no matter what my challenges are, I'll become stronger and a better person because of it.

Latest UFC Images

    Chuck Liddell, from Santa Barbara, Calif., reacts after being knocked out in the first round by Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, from Brazil, during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)

    Ryan Remiorz, The Canadian Press / AP

    Anderson Silva, from Brazil, puts on his belt after defeating Thales Leites, from Brazil, to retain the World Middleweight Championship title at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. Silva won by decision. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    ** ALTERNATE CROP OF RYR124 ** Thales Leites, left, from Brazil, tackles Anderson Silva, from Brazil, during their World Middleweight Championship fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. Silva won by decision. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Thales Leites, right, from Brazil, and Anderson Silva, from Brazil, battle during their World Middleweight Championship fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. Silva won by decision. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Thales Leites, left, from Brazil, tackles Anderson Silva, from Brazil, during their World Middleweight Championship fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. Silva won by decision. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Thales Leites, bottom, from Brazil, and Anderson Silva, from Brazil, battle during their World Middleweight Championship fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. Silva won by decision. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Thales Leites, left, from Brazil, is hit by Anderson Silva, from Brazil, during their World Middleweight Championship fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. Silva won by decision. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Thales Leites, right, from Brazil, and Anderson Silva, from Brazil, battle during their World Middleweight Championship fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Chuck Liddell, from Santa Barbara, CA, is helped off the canvas as Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, from Brazil, celebrates his first round knockout during their light heavyweight fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

    Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, from Brazil, celebrates after knocking out Chuck Liddell, from Santa Barbara, Calif., during the first round of their light heavyweight fight at UFC 97 in Montreal Saturday, April 18, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz)

    AP

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