One of the UFC’s modern-day greats has called it a career.
Former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans announced earlier this week he will no longer be competing in mixed martial arts.
Evans, a no-brainer to one day be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, made his decision to retire roughly two weeks after suffering a knockout loss to Anthony Smith at UFC 225. It was his fifth consecutive defeat and seventh loss in nine bouts dating back to 2012.
The 38-year-old leaves the sport with a 19-8-1 record, including wins over fellow former UFC champs Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Tito Ortiz and Michael Bisping, while also boasting victories over Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, Phil Davis and Stephan Bonnar.
“Deciding to retire was the toughest decision of my life because everything in me told me I need to keep fighting,” Evans wrote Wednesday in a moving Instagram post. “I’ve fought my whole life in some form since I could remember so saying goodbye to my long time companion is hard. Fighting to me has never been about the actual fight itself. It was that in between space that exists in the fight where the ‘I’ completely dissolves & I transform into something else. In that space the fear, doubt, negativity & life worries could never follow me. Shedding these worldly feelings to just be in the space of pure expression is something I will miss very much.
“Riding the emotional rollercoaster that a big fight brings is the most amazing feeling in the world and going through those experiences have made me grow into a strong man that I’m thankful for.”
In honor of his retirement, we count down the Top @SugaRashadEvans moments. pic.twitter.com/Gkk2TXiOMd
— UFC (@ufc) June 26, 2018
Evans began his MMA career as a 23-year-old in 2004 following a Division 1 collegiate wrestling career at Michigan State and he made a name for himself in 2005 when he won the second season of The Ultimate Fighter as a heavyweight.
After starting his career 12-0-1, Evans won the title in the UFC’s vaunted 205-pound division in his 14th professional bout by stopping Griffin by TKO at UFC 92. The Niagara Falls, N.Y., native was never able to defend his belt, though, losing by knockout to Machida less than five months after beating Griffin.
He rebounded from his loss to Machida with four straight victories over the next two years before looking to regain his title against Jon Jones — the champion at the time and a fighter Evans used to mentor when the two trained at the Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, N.M.
Evans lost a unanimous decision to Jones and never managed to work himself back into title contention.
“Thank you to the UFC for giving me the platform to live my dream,” Evans wrote. “Thank you to (UFC president) Dana White who is one of the most caring (people) I know, even though he hides it very well with his tough exterior. Thank you to (former UFC CEO) Lorenzo Fertitta who bought me my first nice suits & who always made sure he let me know he valued me as person rather than just a fighter. Thank you to all my coaches throughout the years.”
In the late stages of his career, following a 2015 knockout loss to Glover Teixeira, Evans decided to move down a division and try his hand in the 185-pound weight class but it didn’t result in any success. He fought three times as a middleweight, dropping back-to-back split decisions to Daniel Kelly and Sam Alvey before losing to Smith.
“I want to thank all my fans out there who have supported me during this journey,” Evans added. “You fans have inspired me so much throughout the years. Many times when I couldn’t find the motivation to push myself I thought about you guys. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for pushing me in every way to be the person I am today. Even the ‘haters’ deserve a thank you because you guys provided a deep well a motivation to draw from.”