Rashad: Jones ‘felt a loss’ in last win

Rashad Evans opens up to his friend and former NFL star Brendon

Ayanbadejo about recent losses, Jon Jones, his relationship with

UFC president Dana White and what he has learned from Ray

Lewis.

The full interview is below:

Brendon Ayanbadejo: I’m just going to start off right off

the bat with the heavy hitter. You ready? This isn’t your boy

on the phone, this is the media right here. You ready?

Rashad Evans: I’m ready, I’m ready,

I’m ready.

BA: With three disappointing losses, one losing the belt, one in

an opportunity to win the belt back and one in a fight you were

expected to win but lost, what did you learn from those

experiences?

RE: What I learned from them really in a sense

through losing I learned a way to win. Every single time I’ve

lost I’ve found a way to reinvent myself and come back.

It’s through losing you learn more valuable lessons than you

do when you’ve won. I’ve been saying for this for

awhile, all the time I was winning I was slowly losing. A piece of

what I was doing, a piece of my technique was getting overlooked

because I was winning. I had the success. It was masked by the

success. When I lost, it brought everything to light and it allowed

me to make the changes I needed to make.

BA: That reminds me of the 18-0 Patriots going and losing in the

biggest one they basically had to win and they didn’t do it.

What does that say about a guy like [Chris] Weidman or a guy like

Jon Jones?

RE: In what respect, you mean? As far as them

winning?

BA: Are you saying they’ll be a better fighter after they

lost a fight?

RE: Yeah, I think the last fight that Jones fought

is gonna make him a better fighter. Even though he got the nod on

the card, he definitely felt a loss, because it wasn’t up to

his standards, it wasn’t up to what he normally does. It

wasn’t that fantastic style he always wins in. When that

happens you feel like you’re losing a bit of yourself. But if

you’re smart you look at it like, ‘OK his is what I

need to do a little more of. This is what went wrong in the last

fight.’ You find a way to rebuild yourself. A piece of him

did lose and he does have to come back.

With Weidman, the formula to his success is that he

doesn’t know what it is to lose. He doesn’t know what

that feeling is like. It’s a process for him. His naievete is

what’s keeping him from feeling that loss. Losing comes in

phases. I think he experienced a piece of that in the first round

with Anderson Silva. He felt that feeling.

BA: With those three fights, the three that you had lost, we

know they were tough for you. Which one would you have back and

why?

RE: The one that I would have back is the Nogueira

fight. I would love to have that one back and I’d love to do

that one again. That was a fight that I didn’t rise to the

occasion where I needed to. I just wasn’t there. I

wasn’t present. And I can handle losing as long as I compete.

I can’t handle losing when I don’t compete. And I have

nobody else but myself to blame and that becomes hard to forgive

sometimes.

 

BA: I knew you were gonna pick that fight for some reason and

I’m actually glad you did. That says a lot about you, because

the stakes weren’t the highest for that fight of course, but

you expected something out of yourself and you didn’t give

that, so that says a lot about you.

Is this Rashad Evans better than the undefeated Rashad Evans? Is

this Rashad Evans here today, is this a more confident, better,

more complete Rashad Evans than that one?

RE: Yes, this is a more confident Rashad Evans

than the undefeated one and mainly because what I had to go through

to get to where I am right now. All the hardships I had to endure

in my career as well as in my personal life has readied to me where

I am right now. Enough is not said about the mentality of a

fighter, what it takes to go into a fight and even what it takes to

get ready for a fight. It’s such a mental process that really

nobody like to talk about it. It’s something that is so

monumental on a fighter’s success, how well does he prepare?

How well does he handle pressure? What does he do when he feels

that feeling of vulnerability? And how you deal with yourself when

you’re feeling that vulnerability is the key to success. I

truly feel like I know how to handle myself when I’m feeling

vulnerable. I accept the fact that I can’t change the outcome

or I can’t predict what it’s going to be. I can only do

one thing and that’s fight my ass off and do the best that I

can do. Just really having a grip of understanding what that meant

in all sense of the word is freedom in itself and it’s a

victory in itself.

BA: I want to ask you about a couple of people, take it off of

you for a second. Over the last couple of years you’ve become

friends with Ray Lewis and how has he helped? Ray Lewis is a

motivator and a leader and that’s kind of what you’re

becoming in the UFC. What have you learned from Ray Lewis and what

sticks out bout Ray Lewis and your dynamic and that

relationship?

RE: One thing I learned from Big Brother Ray is

that when he hurt his arm, I went to go see him when he went home

and he told me he was so hurt. The fact that they retired him on

TV, they gave him his eulogy. He said, ‘Oh man, no man should

have to hear his own eulogy.’ But he said, I’m not

finished, mark my words, in eight or nine weeks I’m gonna be

on that field playing and he did exactly what he said he was gonna

do. He did it by doing one thing, he said I’m gonna grind. He

said I’m gonna do old-school grind. I’m gonna leave all

the weights alone. I’m gonna go back to doing situps, ab

wheel, pushups, pullups and getting myself to be the best Ray

Lewis, the best they ever seen. And he did exactly that.

That’s one thing that Ray talked to me about whenever I

lost a fight, we sat down and we had a talk. The talk wasn’t

about he fight itself, it was an overall approach to my training.

He said, you gotta make this a lifestyle. You don’t just do

this because you have a fight coming up. It’s a lifestyle.

Everything you do has to be that. You are that until you decide to

do something else in your life. But while you’re doing this,

this is your lifestyle. Everything you eat, everything you put in

your body, everything that you surround yourself with has to be

about that. That’s how you’re gonna get the best out of

yourself. He said, you have to embrace that grind, bro.

That’s what he said.

BA: I’ve heard it many times. Let’s come back to

UFC. How do you feel about Dana White?

RE: I feel that Dana White has done a tremendous

job to turn a sport that was shunned away and pretty much not going

[anywhere] and brought it to what it is now, which is a worldwide

growing sport. He’s created tremendous opportunities.

He’s kind of polarized with how people feel about him, but I

would say this. Me and him have had dynamics in the relationship I

have a tremendous amount of respect for him, because whatever he

has to say about me, he always make sure he says it to me first.

And he always keeps it 100 percent real. So I got no problem with a

man who always keeps it 100 percent real when he’s gotta say

something.

BA: And so kind of the first thing you said about Dana White is

that he transformed a sport, which leads me to ask you: is Dana

White the biggest star in the UFC?

RE: I would definitely say he’s the biggest

star – him and the Fertitta brothers. I think it was

definitely a team effort. Nobody really talks about Lorenzo or

Frank. But having a relationship with Lorenzo Fertitta, you see the

passion he has in anything he sets his mind to. He has that same

mentality that Dana White has, that’s that pitbull mentality.

One they get something, they lock onto it and they don’t let

go until they get what they want. They’re kind of like both

the same, but they have different approaches of getting it. Dana

Whire is more in-your-face, this is how you’re gonna do it,

take it or leave it. Lorenzo Fertitta is more business savvy, more

businessman about it. They have the same mentality and that’s

to get it done.

I would say both of those guys are the stars of the UFC. Dana

White is definitely the star. He’s created jobs for 385

fighters and it’s just amazing that we can say this is our

job, it’s what we love to do.

BA: Is there a fighter more popular than Dana White? Is there a

figure in the UFC bigger in star power?

RE: I don’t think so. I don’t think

there’s one star bigger than Dana White in the UFC.

BA: Could you imagine Roger Goodell being the most famous dude

in the NFL?

RE: I couldn’t imagine it. It’s kind

of crazy. Dana handles it really well. He likes the fanfare, he

embraces it. There’s always a piece of him that’s that

same guy that was the trainer. And he remembers what it was like to

be that guy. He doesn’t take it for granted. Some guys get

like, ‘Oh I’m so over this.’ He’s

doesn’t get over it. He’s not over it. He still loves

it, he loves every bit of it. If he walks out of the lobby and they

tell him he can take the back away or take the lobby, he’s

gonna say I want to see the fans. He’s gonna walk through the

lobby.

BA: I’ve got three questions left, ’Shad. I watched

the 20 years of UFC the other day, it was amazing. I texted you

when I watched it and we talked a little bit about how cool it was.

With “The Ultimate Fighter,” it seems like it made the

UFC semi-mainstream. How are “The Ultimate Fighter”

competitors treated now compared to the early days when you won

“TUF”, when Diego [Sanchez] was in it? What’s

different between then and now?

RE: I would say it got a lot easier, because the

system as been perfected. When we were doing it the first two

seasons, we were kind of like the guinea pigs. Right now these guys

got it a little bit easier. When I was on the show, it was about

bringing out the most vulnerable part of you when it comes to

training. They wanted to see you cry, they wanted to see you break,

they wanted to see you almost give up. They wanted all those

things, because it was good for TV. Now I think they know what they

want, they have a program for how it should go, how it should

always follow the format. With the first two seasons, they

didn’t have that. We were still doing challenges. It was all

over the place. It was a reality TV show thing at the time to do

challenges. Nowadays I would say they have it easier than we

did.

BA: What about their credibility within the UFC?

RE: I think the credibility is still expected of

them, because there’s been so many guya who come off

“The Ultimate Fighter” show and do phenomenal. Forrest

Griffin did a very good job of setting the standard, even which I

had to follow. Continuing to be successful off the show, getting

championships and all those things. I had to beat him to become UFC

champion, but also to be the total “Ultimate Fighter”

champion. I faced every single other “Ultimate Fighter”

in my weight class and I won.

BA: We’re talking about champions, let’s talk about

legends and those who formed the sport. With you beating Tito Ortiz

twice – well, twice in my book, once was a draw –

beating [Chuck] Liddell, beating [Dan] Henderson, beating

“Rampage” [Jackson], they’re all legends. When

we’re watching UFC’s greatest knockouts, we see Rashad

Evans pop up on the screen. How does it make you feel to be

considered a legend in the sport?

RE: It makes me feel amazing. It’s kind of

unreal to be honest. It’s really hard to smell the roses

while you’re alive, because I haven’t had a chance to

have that perspective. I haven’t been away from the sport to

say, look at my legacy, look at my print, look what I did. At

glimpses, I get a chance to see wow these people really appreciate

the work I’ve done. Sometimes I look back on some of the

things I’ve done and I say man, I can’t believe it did

that. It’s kind of surreal to be honest, because I never

expected to be in this position. I always hoped it, I always

dreamed it. But to be honest, I really never knew. I was just gonna

go out there and fight as hard as I can. For me, my biggest dream

was just to be able to compete. I used to have this house in

Lansing, Michigan and I had this dirt hill that was pretty high and

I used to run it all the time. I used to imagine me having my hand

raised, holding the belt and being considered a legend and all

these things. It’s so crazy how everything has come to

fruition. It’s almost like I wrote what was going to happen

and it’s happening right now. It’s unreal.

BA: Like your Rocky Balboa moment when he’s running up

those stairs in Philly. I feel you.

RE: Yeah, that’s exactly it.

BA: And last question, what’s gonna happen on Saturday

night?

RE: That’s a hard question you ask me. I

always try to say something savvy, try to say something cool, try

to say something that makes me seem a certain way. But to be

honest, I don’t really know.

I believe that Chael , he’s a great fighter. I know what

Chael is gona do. He’s gonna put the pressure on, he’s

not gonna allow me to have one second to get any air or movement.

I’m willing to accept that kind of fight, but I’m not

gonna let him take that fight to me. I’m gonna go out there

and be in his face, I’m gonna go out there and be aggressive.

I’m gonna go out there and be a bully. Whatever that amounts

to, it amounts to, but I’ll tell you right now what

I’ve been training to do – I’ve been training to

knock him the f*ck out.