Rashad Evans wants to set the record straight -- not for the fans or media, but for himself.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion knows well that his last outing -- a lackluster decision loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156 -- was not his finest performance, and 33-year-old Evans plans to erase the memory of that bout when he meets Dan Henderson tonight in the UFC 161 headliner at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“You definitely want to get the monkey off your back when you stink up the joint,” Evans said during a recent media conference call. “As a fighter, you wear the hat of the last fight you fought until you fight another one. It’s just something you have to deal with. You’ve got to have a short memory on that kind of thing, because if you dwell on it too long, it can definitely hinder you.
“I want to go out there and put on a show -- not just to shut up all the naysayers, but for myself. I could live with disappointing anybody [else], but I can’t live with disappointing myself,” Evans continued. “I know how to perform to the best of my ability; it’s just a matter of going out there and doing it. Second-guessing myself isn’t going to get me any closer to fighting to the best of my ability. I’m ready to move on and put on the fight that I that I know I can.”
In Henderson, Evans faces a former Pride Fighting Championships and Strikeforce titlist long known for his Olympic wrestling pedigree and dynamite right hand. The pivotal light heavyweight pairing now serves as the featured attraction of the injury-riddled UFC 161 bill, which was initially supposed to be topped by an interim bantamweight title defense from Renan Barao.
“I don’t feel any added pressure,” Evans said of his promotion to the main event. “It’s just one of those things where you’re stepping in there with a guy like Dan Henderson. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first card of the night or the last fight of the night. It still doesn’t change the dynamic of the situation. Honestly, the whole [prospect of a] title shot isn’t on my mind. I just want to go in there and fight.”