Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans made his middleweight debut last Saturday at UFC 209, but 39-year-old Dan Kelly was there to play spoiler as he defeated ‘Sugaā€™ via split decisionĀ (scored 29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
Evansā€™ grappling looked crisp during grappling exchanges, but on the feet, Kelly — even with a busted knee — kept coming forward and wouldnā€™t let Rashad get comfortable.
“I feel like my time away from the cage has probably cost me a lot,” said Evans on The Luke Thomas Show this week, adding that fighting once a year wasnā€™t enough to ward ring rust. “I think I need to be more active when it comes to fighting.”
Evans was complimentary of Kellyā€™s overall game, perhaps too complimentary. The former champ was worried about the Austrailian judokaā€™s sweeps especially, and even though Dan Kelly isnā€™t technical with his strikes, ‘Sugaā€™ says heā€™s effective.
Rashad doesnā€™t think Kelly won the judgesā€™ scorecards and as disappointing as it is — he has to move on with the realization he is 0-1 in a new division. He says he should have remained focused for 15 minutes, stuck to his gameplan, and went for a finish for the entirety of the fight; he shouldnā€™t have left it to the judges, and now he remains haunted by a few thoughts.
“Whenever I close my eyes, I just see different things that now, is so abundantly clear, but during the fight — I couldnā€™t see. Itā€™s tough man because I feel like I still could make a run and I still feel like Iā€™m not that far from doing that, but, I gotta do better — and thatā€™s just the bottom line and itā€™s heartbreaking, itā€™s sad, for me, but it is what it is,” said Evans. “When it was time to go, it just didnā€™t happen like that for me.”
Evans will now look to get back into the cage as soon as possible because he knows heā€™s better than this, even though heā€™s 37 years old. He still feels like he can compete and thatā€™s what he wants to do — compete as much as possible until he can no longer go at an elite level.
Kenny Florian called for Evansā€™ retirement on the FS1 post-fight show (video below).
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