Rashad Evans on what he did best during the fight and what he needs to work on:

“The best thing was the fact that I put a lot of pressure on him, and the worst was that I could have followed up on a couple of opportunities when he have been hurt. I could have followed up with a few different types of combinations. Maybe I got a little lazy on on the cage too; I might have got a little too relaxed there.”

Before UFC 161, Rashad Evans told Muscle & Fitness that he recovered the motivation he needed to fight. When his coach, Kenny Monday, lifted up Evans (18-3-1) in celebration after Bruce Buffer announced the MMA fighter’s split decision win over Dan Henderson (29-10) at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, he could be heard saying, “Welcome back, my friend.”  

Whether Monday meant welcome back to winning ways (Evans was 0-2 in his last two outings before this one) or welcome back to the top table of light heavyweights, the relief was palpable in camp Evans that the 33-year-old had just achieved a very significant victory in his career.

Henderson came out strong in the opening round and staggered Evans early in the fight with a few jabs en route to winning the first stanza. However, Evans rallied in the second and especially the third to out-work, out-hustle and pressure Henderson enough to grind out out a split decision win.

Post fight, UFC president Dana White said that Evans was in the best shape he had ever seen him, but that he needed to find that killer instinct. Evans did not quite agree. “I went in there and gave it everything I had. Dan Henderson is not an easy fight. Dana White says what he says; I take it with a grain of salt. I can’t really worry about the expectations of what he thought I should have done, as I am the one who is in there fighting. Everything looks different from the outside,” Evans told M&F.com. “I was really aggressive, and I was more aggressive through the fight. That killer instinct comes from moving forward and being the aggressor, and I thought that I did that.”

Rashad Evans on Pre- and Post-Fight Nutrition:

“Leading into to the fight I ate oatmeal and fruit in the morning and them mostly carbs after that to get as much energy as possible. I also drank lots of water. When my body gets ready to fight I lose appetite, so I try to eat much as I can. Usually that is not that much, so I drink water and I get protein shakes to supplement when I am not eating.” Post fight – “I drank plenty of water, a good recovery shake and something not so healthy because it was so late.” (Ed Note – Any man deserves a cheat meal after beating Dan Henderson in the octagon!)

Evans attributed the work he did in camp with his team as a key factor in being able to gut out the last two rounds to effectively save his career as an elite fighter. “Coach Kenny made sure he pushed me hard in the every practice. Every practice I had to do that little bit extra, and that really made the difference.”

For now, it is time for Evans to allow his body to recover from the rigors of his fight with Henderson, but he plans to maintain fitness so he is ready once his next assignment is set. “I have to take at least two weeks off for body to recover for a bit. After that relaxing is over, I will head back to the gym and train once a day and just enjoy it, not put pressure on myself, and try and learn. That is the best time to learn things, to grow, and to add wrinkles to your game.”

Evans was put on indefinite medical suspension by the Manitoba Combative Sports Commission after the fight, but he foresees no major issues with being declared fit to fight again. “The commission gave me an indefinite suspension because I have a cut over my eye,” he explained. “They said that they won’t clear me until I go to see my doctor and get it cleared. It is a process.” Evans went on say that he got around 10 butterfly stitches in the cut and that he expects it to heal with no repercussions.

When the UFC light heavyweight rankings came out on June 17, Evans, who had touted a possible move down to middleweight but now feels like he will stay in the 205-pound division, moved up two places to fourth.  Champion Jon Jones takes on number two-ranked Alexander Gustafsson in the fall and Evans has already fought the number one-ranked Lyoto Machida. Glover Teixeira is in the third spot, but Evans is indifferent to who he fights next.

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me, and that is not a popular answer, but I could not care less. I will just go out there and fight who they want me to fight and just keep on winning. That is my goal. It doesn’t matter where they rank me, it doesn’t matter who they put in against me. It does not matter at all. I will win.”