MMA Fighter Rashad Evans Talks Dan Henderson and Motivation

"I am up for the challenge. I want to be world champion again, so I am willing to walk through fire to get there."

To the outsider, one might feel that light heavyweight Rashad Evans (17-3-1) is going into this Saturday night's fight against Dan Henderson (29-9) under a little pressure. The 33-year-old enters UFC 161 in Winnipeg after two consecutive losses, first to Jon Jones in April 2012 and then to Antônio Rogério Nogueira last February. After his last defeat, there were comments from UFC president Dana White that Evans had lost his hunger and drive. When Muscle & Fitness caught up with Evans recently during his training camp, the former light heavyweight champion of the world and winner of The Ultimate Fighter 2 didn't sound like a man under pressure, he sounded like a man getting ready for war.

Muscle & Fitness: How did your camp go?

Rashad Evans: Camp has been amazing. It has been one of those camps where I have gotten back to myself and back to the thing that I used to do to make me the force I was before. It was more or less me getting reacquainted with myself, but it has been a great camp.

Did you get your motivation back and how?

I felt good going into the last fight it’s just that on fight night I didn’t have it. What brought it back for me is that joy of fighting. I found that through training, training hard and getting the reps through training. That’s what I really enjoy and that is what really helps you get to the place. The training is the hardest part of the whole thing, harder than the fight. If you train hard then the fight will take care of itself and the fight will be easy.

What are your keys to victory in this fight against Dan Henderson?

Well, of course the big key to victory is to avoid that right hand at all costs. I am not going to stand in front of it and block it; I just have to get out of the way. It is easier said than done, but I have to avoid it with good movement, and I have good legs. I am fast. I feel like I should be able to avoid it pretty good. Let’s be honest, he is going to come and he is put a lot of pressure. I am not going to run. I am going to stand and bang but I am going to be out of the way when he throws that right hand.

Is this a make or break fight for you?

Listen, I am 33 years old, and I have only had three losses in my entire life. I have a lot of fight left in me. If I don’t get it this time, I am going to get up there and I going to fight again. Most of the guys in the UFC now have nine and ten losses. I am not there. I am far from being done. If I lose this fight, I've just got to work harder to get back there. If I have to fight entry guys to get my level back or to show that I can still do it, then that is what I have to do. As far as me being done, that is the farthest thing from my mind. Everybody is asking me is it over if I lose this fight. I am like Goddam, four losses – does that mean that I have to retire? It just shows that people have a high standard of where they see me. But I am a fighter and sometimes you lose, it happens, you lose, but that doesn’t mean that I am done because I lose.

Do you think people are writing you off too early?

For sure, and people have been doing that my whole career. That has been a mantra that has been a constant my whole career that people have been writing me off. But that is fine, that is what motivates me and that is what has got me here. “Three losses, my God he should retire.” Really, three losses? Randy Couture had 15 losses and everybody is like "he is a legend, he is the greatest.” And he is, you know, he is one of the greatest. But come on.