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Rebuttal: Rashad Evans And The Business Of MMA

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We all know that the UFC is putting together a Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva match up for UFC 108.  It's common knowledge that the UFC offered Rashad Evans a fight with Randy Couture to headline UFC 105, but Rashad Evans turned the fight down citing the following as reasons why:

"You’re going to come to me and say I want you to fight Randy Couture in eight weeks when I was supposed to fight Rampage Jackson? How do you go from fighting the number two guy to fighting Randy Couture, who is coming off back-to-back losses in the heavyweight division [and] is 46 years old? What do I really have to gain in that situation? In all due respect to Randy, you know, Randy is a legend and all, but to be honest, it’s a lose-lose situation for me.

"I’m going into a camp where I probably actually get to train for maybe about six or seven weeks, and then I’m fighting in Manchester, England. And then I’m fighting Randy Couture and I don’t have anything really to gain out of the situation," Evans continued. "It’s kind of taking a step back for me because I was on track at trying to get a shot to get the belt back and I think, more than anything [with] fighting Quinton, I get a chance to finally get it right for myself, to go in there and say, ‘This is where I belong.’ And fighting Randy just would have been a big distraction for that. I don’t know, maybe people wanted to see it, but it was nothing that was interesting to me."

However, David Wolf questions Rashad Evan's decision to turn down the fight with Randy Couture:

Rashad Evans is one of the best 205 lbs. fighters in the world but in passing on Randy he betrays a deep misunderstanding of what moves MMA business.

Seriously, if you’re offered a fight with Randy Couture, it’s a no-brainer.  I don’t care if he has five losses in a row: it’s RANDY COUTURE!  You take the fight.

If Evans’s thought process is genuinely along the lines of "a win over Randy means less than a win over Thiago," well, then, Rashad’s been receiving terrible career counsel (or perhaps has tweaked his nipples one too many times).

A win over Randy Couture might very well have directly led to another title shot;  a win over Thiago Silva, on the other hand, is probably insufficient to take Evans there by itself.

Rashad Evans made the right decision.  As he stated, a win over a 46 year old Randy Couture coming off back to back losses at heavyweight, that's not a ranked light heavyweight, and hasn't fought at light heavyweight since getting KTFO by Chuck Liddell in 2006 doesn't do anything for him.  Also, not to mention that Thiago Silva is a ranked light heavyweight that just destroyed another ranked light heavyweight in Rashad Evan's teammate Keith Jardine at UFC 102.  Why would a win over Couture lead to a direct title shot?  The truth of the matter is no matter who Rashad Evans fought next, he probably would not have received another title shot in his next fight as long as Machida is the champion.  He got destroyed against Machida, and it's highly doubtful that the UFC would rush into that re-match so quickly provided that Machida gets by Shogun Rua at UFC 104.

Then on the flip side of that, what if Rashad Evans lost to Couture?  A loss against Couture would be much more crushing in regards to earning another title shot than a loss to Thiago Silva.  You would have a guy in his prime losing to a 46 year old man that hasn't fought in his weight class in 3 years and is coming off two losses.  Not to mention he would have had to take the fight on short notice and fight overseas which could possibly affect his payday if he gets a percentage of the PPV buys in his contract.  True, he could have possibly gotten more sponsor money with the fight being on Spike TV but that's not guranteed.  It's one thing to question Evan's decision to pass up a fight with a guy like Couture.  I can understand that, but to make it seem as if it's the biggest mistake in the history of MMA is down right laughable.