Rashad Evans almost broke down in tears after finally getting the green light for his UFC return.
It has been almost a year since Rashad Evans last saw action inside the UFC Octagon. It was against Glover Teixeira in April where he was knocked out in the first round, marking his second two-fight losing streak.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion was slated for his middleweight debut against Tim Kennedy at UFC 205 in November in New York, but was pulled due to “irregular findings” in his MRI scan. The matchup was moved to UFC 206 a month later, but the Ontario Athletic Commission also deemed Evans unfit to compete.
The 35-year-old Evans initially thought his career was over, until he was finally granted the license to fight at UFC 209 against Australian Olympic judoka Dan Kelly a few weeks ago. Upon receiving the news, Evans admitted to being overcome by emotion.
“I almost cried to be honest,” Evans told FOX Sports. “It was an emotional thing for me because no fighter wants to go out like that, especially me. I didn’t want to go out like that.”
“I know one day this will be over and I feel like I’ll be able to handle it but I just wasn’t ready for it to end like that. I wasn’t ready for it to end without me having a chance to compete again and have the feelings of how you feel going into a fight.”
A year-long layoff is a major setback for an aging veteran fighter like Evans. But instead of looking at it that way, he feels it is more of a second chance to possibly get back into the mix.
“It definitely feels like a second career. Because it feels like I’m starting all over,” Evans said. “Almost every aspect of it. From training situations to just getting cleared to a new weight class, everything feels brand new.”
“I feel like a new kid on the block. It’s refreshing. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I have all those rookie feelings but I know I can do it because I’ve done it before.”
UFC 209 takes place on Saturday, March 4th in Las Vegas.