Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans has not fought since beating Chael Sonnen in November 2013 because of several serious injuries. In a recent interview with MMA Junkie, the fighter admitted that sitting on the sidelines for this long has been a real challenge.
"This has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire career — just to sit out, not being able to do too much, not to do what I love to do when I’m in the gym all the time," he said.
"I’m watching my teammates go, and they’re fighting. Naturally, you feel — once you’ve been doing the sport this long — that eventually it’s going to be my turn. And it’s not my turn yet. It’s just hard to sit back and watch the whole MMA game pass you by."
Even so, Evans says that he still enjoys going to the gym to support his Blackzilians teammates. "I do like to be here even though I can’t spar," he explained.
"I like to be here with the team. I like to give the guys some pointers when I see it. I love to coach. If I can’t fight, then I’ll coach. Being in here with the guys is as close as I can get to it, now."
That said, Evans is eager to step into the cage again himself, and hopes to return to competition by the fall. He turns 36 in September, and fighting once more would be a great birthday gift to himself.
"I want to fight in September," he said.
"I want to fight around my birthday — Sept. 25. I think that I should be ready by then. I’m three months into my [ACL repair] recovery right now, and it feels pretty good."
The former TUF winner has been forced to think about his future after fighting, much sooner than he would have liked to. He doesn’t yet have answers as to what he’ll do after he retires from competition, but his head is full of the right questions.
"This whole experience has definitely had me thinking about what it’s going to be like when it’s over or what’s next in my life," Evans admitted.
"You can’t fight forever. And, when you’re young — 10 years ago — I [had] never forseen this coming. I knew it was going to end. I knew it was going to be over. I just didn’t know what the end would be and what it would entail. I’m far from over, right now, but this is just a glimpse into my future. When I can’t fight, what’s next for me? Do I just go and have a normal life? Do I coach some guys? What do I do? It’s definitely raised some interesting questions and opened my mind to a lot of different thoughts I didn’t have before."