TORONTO -- Rashad Evans
wanted to fight for the championship. Phil Davis
wanted time off. Neither man got their wish. Earlier this week, the UFC announced the two would face each other at UFC 133
It was a situation born of necessity, after UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones
was informed that his hand injury would require surgery, pushing back his return to the octagon. UFC president Dana White said Jones might need as much as six months before he's ready to come back, and time waits for no man, even the champ. So the UFC went to plan B. Last time this happened, Evans passed, electing to wait and fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. But then Rua got healthy, Evans got hurt and was forced to withdraw. Now it's coming up on a year in between fights for Evans, and he can't afford to wait any longer.
A loss will nearly certainly knock Evans out of the No. 1 contender spot, but that doesn't mean Davis will be fighting for a chance to compete for the belt.
Asked where exactly a win would place Davis, White didn't give a definitive answer, offering a phrase he's known to utter every now and again: "he's in the mix."
"It's huge upside for Phil," he said. "He's an up-and-coming guy anyway. We'll see what happens."
White admitted that he hadn't yet spoken to Evans since the development but said he was "a good guy" who "made some bad decisions in the last year-and-a-half."
"Rashad's ready to fight," he said. "Rashad wants to fight."
When Evans gets back in the cage against Davis, it will be nearly 15 months between fights.
The same can't be said for Davis, who has been one of the UFC's most active fighters since making his debut in Feb. 2010. His March decision win over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira marked his fifth fight in 13 months. All wins, by the way. In fact, Davis is still unbeaten at 9-0.
Still, there are some who believe that Davis is being pushed ahead too quickly. Not White.
"No, I don't think I'm pushing him too hard," he said. "Back when he had a smaller roster, guys used to fight all the time. It's normal in the fight business. There's guys in boxing that used to fight every weekend. It's not abnormal to fight five times a year."
Despite neither man getting exactly what he wanted, there is still a lot to gain for both -- as well as a lot to lose. Evans tried waiting for his opportunity to no avail. His career was slowed down as a result. Davis was sped up by his willingness to jump back into the fire. Two completely different scenarios got them to the same place at the same time. According to White, it's situations like this that make or break careers in the fight world.
"When you get an opportunity in this business, you jump on it," he said. "You take it. Especially for a guy like Davis. Wait a minute, I automatically catapult and get a chance to fight Rashad Evans? I'm in. Everybody's banged up. It's like NFL players who play every Sunday. It's part of the game. It's part of professional sports."