Rashad Evans makes an interesting comment in the latest promotional video for his UFC 108 main event fight with Thiago Silva: "It's like a race to see who can get back to Machida."
Evans clearly views this fight as a chance to close in on a rematch with Lyoto Machida, who took the UFC light heavyweight title from Evans. But where, exactly, is Evans in that race to Machida?
It's sort of strange that of the six numbered events from UFC 104 through UFC 109, five have main events featuring light heavyweights:
104: Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua
105: Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera
106: Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz
108: Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva
109: Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman
And yet at the end of all that, the UFC light heavyweight division will have gone ... nowhere.
Thanks to the controversial decision at UFC 104, we're going to have another Machida vs. Shogun fight for the title, and that fight won't happen until May. And none of the winners of those other four main events is going to get a title shot in his next fight. Heck, Couture could win two main events and he still would need at least one more win before he'd get a title shot.
There are some interesting issues at play in the light heavyweight division right now. Machida won't be ready to give Shogun his rematch until May, and we have no way of knowing now how soon the winner of that fight will be able to defend his belt. The three most popular fighters in UFC history -- Couture, Ortiz and Chuck Liddell -- are all fighting in the light heavyweight division at the moment, but they're not close to title contention. And Rampage Jackson, who's arguably the best (and most charismatic) light heavyweight in the world, is off playing Mr. T at the moment.
So where does Evans fit in this race to get back to Machida? I think he'd have to beat Silva, then beat Rampage (assuming Rampage comes back and finally takes that fight), and then beat one more opponent -- maybe Griffin or Couture -- before he'd get another title shot. That's probably more likely to happen in 2011 than in 2010. And by then who knows if Machida will still be the champion?
In other words, this race to get back to Machida is a marathon, not a sprint.