"My back was against the wall and I felt like I needed to go out there and not only win, but to go out there and have a good performance...I was having fun. I told myself that I wasn't gonna let myself have breaks in concentration. I constantly kept reminding myself that this is it and I wanted to make sure that I was enjoying myself at all times...Whoever they got coming. I fight the best when I'm busy, so I would like to stay as busy as possible. My body feels good. I have some bumps and bruises, but I will only take off for a few weeks and get back to the gym and start training. I'm enjoying it again," stated former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, who talked about his recent victory over Dan Henderson, his future plans, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on the win over Dan Henderson.
RE: Thanks, man.
PC: Before we even get into the fight, I wanted to ask you about you mentality going into the fight, because you were coming off of two losses. What was your mindset going into the Hendo fight?
RE: My back was against the wall and I felt like I needed to go out there and not only win, but to go out there and have a good performance. With the UFC, no matter what, you gotta feel that if you drop three fights in a row that you can't be safe.
PC: Very early in the fight, my brother, who I was watching the fight with, made the comment, "Rashad is fighting with that old Rashad energy." Did you feel that was the case, because it looked like you were having fun again?
RE: Yeah, I was having fun. I told myself that I wasn't gonna let myself have breaks in concentration. I constantly kept reminding myself that this is it and I wanted to make sure that I was enjoying myself at all times. I was just ignoring everything else around me and my mind just shut off and I was just into the fight.
PC: When people saw your performance against Lil Nog, they felt it was because you didn't quite get over the sting of the Jon Jones loss. Do you feel that was the case or do you chalk it up to a bad night?
RE: Nah. The Jon Jones fight is what it is and it's a fight that I learned from, but it just comes from me now not taking an opponent for granted. And not only that, but just making sure I stay focused the entire time, every step of the way. And I couldn't allow myself to get frustrated during the course of the fight when things don't go my way. It was a learning experience in that respect. Jon did a good job that night, but it was something I learned from. I don't think it had anything to do with Jon Jones.
PC: When Dan dropped you with the left hand that you kind of ran into, when he blitzed you, what was going through your mind at that point as you were collecting your thoughts?
RE: At first, I was like, "What the hell hit me?" That was the first thing I thought. And he rushed me and as I was getting up, I was like, "My legs are still good." So I was a little off balanced, but it was a good shot. He landed a couple of other ones after that, but when I got up, I was like, "Okay, let's fight."
PC: When you are going into a fight with a guy like Dan, who is so known for his right hand, did you have to make a conscientious effort to prepare for other things and not just avoiding the right hand?
RE: Yeah, of course. I thought he was going to come with that left hook a little more because he knew I was worried about that right hand. But my whole game plan was around that one punch and that right hand because the one thing about that punch that I saw was that it was so explosive and it's pinpoint accurate. A lot of the reason it's so accurate is because he doesn't move. You always know where his hands are going to be. It's like me, I move my hands a lot and that's not necessarily good because when I go to block or throw a punch, I have to go over a little further than I normally would, but it throws off my timing. But he keeps his right there, locked and loaded, and its strong as hell and it hurts.
PC: We saw glimpses of your wrestling. Was the game plan going in to mix up your wrestling and boxing? What was your plan going in offensively?
RE: It was to bring the wrestling and the pressure of the wrestling. I really wanted to bring the pressure and attack him. You never see Dan Henderson go backwards at all, so I figured if I used my wrestling, he would have to think a little bit and he couldn't just walk me down.
PC: Guys like Dan Henderson are very dangerous when they are hurt. How important was it for you to remain calm and pick your shots once you had him hurt in the third round?
RE: It was very hard because when you see somebody go down, you want to jump on them. But then you look in their eyes and you say, "I think I got him hurt." And you wanna rush in because you think, if I rush in, the fight will be over and done. But I know Dan is so good at that kind of emotion. He is so good at when you think you got him down, he's coming and he's coming with that right hand hard. That's what he did to Fedor. That's something he's really good at and you gotta watch Dan when he's down like that because he's really never hurt. With him, you never know how hurt he really is and if he can get that right hand off or not.
PC: We don't see you kick your opponent's legs a lot, but you fired off some leg kicks. Was that with the hope of taking some steam off of his punches because he propels off of his legs to fire his hard shots?
RE: One thing about the leg kicks, and I noticed about Dan, is that he uses a lot of your motions to set up what he does. Like for instance, he looked to counter off of my jab a lot. He is a superb counter striker. A kick, he using that to spring off. There are certain things that you do that he uses to spring off. When I do something, he would do something else automatically without even thinking about it. I didn't want to trigger him. The main thing I wanted to do was dictate the action when he was trying to come forward.
PC: Just listening to you talk, it sounds like you did a lot of research on Hendo before this fight.
RE: Yeah, I broke down his fights a lot, you know. And one fight I broke down a lot was his fight with Machida. That's the Dan Henderson that I broke down.
PC: Did you think this was going to be a 5-round fight or were you aware that it was a 3-rounder, because a lot of fans were confused?
RE: (Laughing) I didn't know that it was even the main event until my brother told me it was on Twitter.
PC: What's next for you? Is there anyone in particular you would like to fight or just whoever they line up?
RE: Whoever they got coming. I fight the best when I'm busy, so I would like to stay as busy as possible. My body feels good. I have some bumps and bruises, but I will only take off for a few weeks and get back to the gym and start training. I'm enjoying it again. Everybody talking about title picture, title picture, title picture, and that's something that's going to come in time, but it's a byproduct of something else. It's a byproduct of going in there and executing in fights and doing it well and building enough interest. I got a lot of criticism from Dana White about my performance. He said that I didn't go out there and take him out or I didn't go out there with the same bad intentions that I have fought with in the past. And I just take it all in stride. With Dana White, I don't get offended by some of the things that he says because I look at it like...I think Dana White says things and he means them in the best way. I know that sounds crazy. He makes sure he pulls me to the side and tells me before he says it to the media. So I felt like it's like a father whose son plays on the team he is coaching. Even after my loss to Nog, I had a long conversation with Dana White. I take everything in that he says, but at the same time, I don't get to the point where I want to say something back or I wanna start talking too crazy. I understand one thing, I'm a fighter. I'm the one that's out there, so what he sees isn't necessarily what's going on out there. You listen to it with a grain of salt. He makes some good points, but at the same time, I take it with a grain of salt. I respect him for his intelligence, but at the same time, I'm out there fighting.
PC: One of the things that he said after the Lil Nog loss was that you have made a lot of money and maybe you weren't hungry like that anymore. Did you ever feel like that was possibly the case?
RE: I think it was more of me being bored with it. For me, I go through these processes before I fight and if I miss a step, it can prevent me from fighting well. It's a mental and spiritual journey and I really have to make sure that I'm doing the stuff that I need to because when it comes time for me to perform, I'm the one that's gonna feel it. I was kind of hitting the fast forward button and not really taking everything in. And when you do that, you go out there and have those lackluster performances. And when that happens, it's like, "What the hell am I doing?"
PC: You have been making 205 for a long time, but I have never seen you look so ripped up like you were for your last fight. Did you do something different? Were you in camp longer or what was it?
RE: I did a longer camp; a bit of a longer camp than I normally do. I started off my camp with a good base, but more importantly than that, I got a conditioning coach that gave me direction with my strength training. I hate to lift weights. It's something that I just don't like. I don't like to do it. I have a coach who makes it count and makes it fun for me at the same time. It's not so bad with him, you know, so I really focused myself to it. I wanted to show that I can keep my weight under control, because a lot of times, I waste a lot of energy just cutting weight; just being lazy about my diet and not being cautious of my diet. I focused in on my diet, and not only that, when it was early on, I made sure I was still working out.
PC: Great to see you back in the W column, and as always, I appreciate your time my man. Is there anything else you want to add?
RE: I like to thank my management team, ASM Management, and of course my team the Blackzilians. They mean everything to me. We started with a couple of guys and now we have a team and a following behind us and I'm very proud to be a part of this team. So I want to thank my team for all of their support.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]