Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
First things first for Rashad Evans. He has a matchup at UFC 156 against a veteran in Antonio Rogerio Nogueira that he respects immensely. Though Evans is a strong favorite to win, there is always a danger in looking past an immediate threat for a prospective one, and he refuses to do it. But he cannot escape the questions and speculation emanating from the fans and media that maybe, just maybe, there will be an opening for him in the UFC's middleweight division as a challenger for Anderson Silva.
So he addressed the elephant in the room.
Yes, he will consider a drop to 185 pounds for the right opportunity, and yes, an offer to face Silva will qualify as that kind of opportunity.
That doesn't mean he's announcing himself as a candidate for the role, or that he will begin to lobby for the spot. It just means that he finds all the speculation, shall we say, intriguing.
"It'd be a tremendous honor to have held the belt in two different divisions," he said on Monday. "But also the chance to compete against Anderson Silva, he's one of my favorites fighters to watch. I get excited every single time I have a chance to watch him fight. When my career is all said and done, I want to be able to say I competed against some of the best guys ever in history. For me to get the chance to compete against Anderson Silva would just be an amazing experience and something I'll take with me forever."
But here's where his words might have ever-so-slightly crossed the line from speculative answer to conclusions drawn from previous thought. Maybe.
"To be able to say I went against the best guy and beat the best guy," he said, "I believe I can beat Anderson Silva, and I believe with the skills and stuff I have is something he'd have a hard time dealing with. But competing against him first and foremost would be an honor in itself."
Well, that was hardly a no, even though it was also far from a yes.
Who knows if the fight will ever happen. After all, Evans is a former light-heavyweight champion who has never ventured lower than his current home in the 205-pound division, and he said that as time has gone on, his body has settled at a weight that would make the cut to 185 a rough one.
Evans said that he often walks around between camps between 227-230 pounds, and has gotten as high as 235.
That means that he'd need major changes in his diet to make the downward shift.
From some of the answers he gave, it seems as though he's given it some thought in the past. He mentioned that at one point, he decided not to move to 185 because he didn't want to put in all the extra work to make the lower weight only to find himself in the same position as a top contender. If that is the case, better to just live his normal life and stay where he is.
"If an opportunity came along that made more sense, then it would be worth the sacrifice," he said. "But right now, if I'm going to drop down and be in the same place I'm at in 205, why cut the extra 20-something pounds?"
It's a fair stance, meaning there might only be one fight that would convince him to move, but even that, like everything else in this scenario, is hypothetical. For it to happen, we have to assume that (a) Evans wins at UFC 156, (b) the UFC is interested in Evans-Silva, (c ) Silva wants the fight and (d) Evans decides that yes, he will attempt the cut. That's a lot of variables that have to break in the right direction.
Then again, with no true clear-cut No. 1 contender that will suit Silva's desire for a big-money match, things at the top get tricky. It's with that factor in mind where Evans, a top-five pay-per-view draw, becomes a potential solution to a vexing problem. At least until after the night of Feb. 2, it remains a matter of weight and wait.
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