Sugar Rashad Evans doesn’t know karate but he knows crazy and he’s hoping his professional street fighting style can offset karate man Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida at Ultimate Fighting Championship 98.
Take your pick.
Undefeated Evans (18-0-1) with his rollicking brawling style faces the technically methodic Machida (14-0) of Brazil at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 23. At stake is the UFC light heavyweight title. The fight card will be shown live on pay-per-view.
A couple of years ago both of these fighters were little known but respected as potential contenders for the vaunted light heavyweight title. Evans, 29, hammered out wins against Stephan Bonnar, Michael Bisping, Chuck Liddell and finally Forrest Griffin to win the coveted title.
It’s been a three and a half year adventure for the New Yorker.
“It pretty much feels the same, like the underdog, going into this fight,” said Evans about being picked to lose by oddsmakers during a press conference call. “I don’t take it personal. It’s not the first time and I haven’t lost yet.”
The Brazilian MMA fighter with the icy stare and shocking black hair has steamrolled through all of his opponents placed in front of him. First it was Rameau Sokoudjou, then Tito Ortiz and finally Thiago Silva was stopped by the stoic slugger from south of the Equator.
“I think Rashad is a great fighter,” Lyoto said. “And I’m going to go out there with a clear mind and do what I’m trained to do whether it’s plan A or plan B.”
Evans says he’s spotted some chinks in Machida’s armor and feels that all he can do is what he does best slug it out or struggle it out with the Brazilian.
“I’ve definitely seen enough to know there are some things I can do and do well,” Evans said of his opponent’s defense.
Evans is not the only New Yorker on the fight card. Also included is former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra (16-5) who faces another former UFC welterweight champion in Matt Hughes, 35, of Illinois.
Both Matts don’t like each other.
“I think the fans still want to see it,” said Hughes (43-7) of the clash with Serra, who turns 35 on June 2. Both had been scheduled to meet but injuries to Serra forced a postponement. “Obviously we both want the fight.”
Hughes and Serra both coached opposing teams on the The Ultimate Fighter television reality series. That show took place in 2007.
“I’m healthy as a horse now,” Serra claims. “For this training camp I was able to do a ton more.”
Hardcore MMA fans will finally get their wish when the two Matts finally meet in the Octagon.
Sean Sherk (37-3-1) faces Frankie Edgar (9-1) in a lightweight clash. Brock Larson (26-2) meets Chris Wilson (13-5) in a welterweight bout. Dan Miller (11-1) opposes Chael Sonnen (23-10-1) in a middleweight rumble. Drew McFedries (7-5) tangles with Xavier Foupa-Pokam in a middleweight bout.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV