A month ago, 28-year-old mixed martial artist Rashad "Sugarâ€ Evans was booked to take on Ultimate Fighting legend Chuck Liddell in the main event of UFC 85: Bedlam. While the match could've turned the Michigan-native into the next Quinton "Rampageâ€ Jackson, a hamstring injury put Liddell on the shelf and the match on hold. Although he won't be competing on this Saturday's pay-per-view, Evans still took the time to talk to KING-MAG.com about dropping dudes and the only guy that ever knocked him out.
Do you think black athletes will eventually dominate mixed martial arts the same way they've dominated sports like boxing?
I don't know. That's a pretty interesting question and a difficult one to answer. A lot of the skill sets that it takes to be in MMA you just can't go learn in your backyard. Being that most African Americans come from predominantly poor or less privileged areas they may not get the exposure to the martial arts that would put them in a position to be in the UFC. But it's coming to the point now where they'll pick it up just from watching it on TV. So there might be some kid from the 'hood somewhere that's learning just from watching TV and can handle their own. I went to a family reunion this past summer and all the kids were wrestling around with each other, but they weren't doing WWE moves. They were hitting arm bars and kimuras and chokes. They just get it from watching TV.
How do you feel about a guy like Kimbo Slice who got his start through bareknuckle fight videos that were posted on the Internet?
I respect Kimbo, because he did what he did from the ground up. I don't want to be one of those mixed martial artists who get jealous of what he's done and the popularity he's gotten because that's not cool and I don't want to hate on him. Do I think technically speaking he's the best mixed martial artists out there? Probably not. But you got to respect him because he came from the ground up.
Did you get into a lot of streetfights when you were coming up?
Yeah, all the time, man. If there were 10 guys that wanted to fight me I'd go fight them and think I could lick every single one of them at the same time. And I would do stuff like that and try to fight these outrageous numbers like I was in a kung fu movie or something.
You're undefeated in the octagon. Was your record just as spotless in the streets?
Actually, I lost one streetfight. It was probably one of the last fights I was ever in. I was actually not even trying to instigate the fight. I was drunk at a bar and trying to break up a fight and this kid sucker punched me and knocked me out cold.
That dude must still be walking around telling everyone he knocked out Rashad Evans.
He would be saying that, but then I went and ran it back. I didn't let him get that on me. I had to go get it back from him.
Are your barroom brawling days over now that you're a professional fighter?
Yeah. Once you know how to fight you don't want to fight just anybody because you know what you can really do. Fighting in the streets comes from not having any confidence in yourself and always wanting to prove yourself. But if you know who you are and what you can do you never want to fight anybody who isn't training because you know you can hurt them.
It must feel pretty good to drop a guy, though.
It's an amazing feeling. You go through a range of emotions. One being like, "Okay, I wonder how this fight is going to end.â€ Then you finally land the punch that finishes an opponent and you're just like, "Man, I didn't think that was going to work.â€ Then you land it on them and they're knocked out because of it and you feel so good. Most of the time when you land a good shot like that you don't even feel it. You're not throwing a punch thinking, "This is the punch that's going to knock him out.â€ You just throw it and you're like, "Wow.â€
You must've known you were going to knock out Sean Salmon when you kicked him in the face last year. You almost took his head off.
I was really frustrated in that fight because he gave me a tough time [in the first round] because I was trying new kicks and different stuff on him. In the next round, I seen that he was getting tired and I was like, "Okay, I'm going to catch him.â€ I was really, really mad. So I caught him with a kick and I was like, "Ooh, that was a good kick.â€ He was going down and I thought, "I hope he don't wake up when he goes down.â€ So I hit him again for good measure before the referee grabbed me. I was so excited. Then I looked over and I seen the official wave the doctors in. The doctors ran over to him and they had a panicked look on their faces. I know the look because I used to work in a hospital. I was just like, "Oh, shit.â€ He was just lying there. Everybody around me was really excited, but I was looking over at the guy like, "Man, he ain't moving still.â€ I went from being really happy to really scared.