Most respectable news sites have dutifully told you that Rashad Evans has replaced the oft-broken Mauricio Rua in his fight against Chuck Liddell. And being respectable news sites, they didn’t include a lot of swear words or angry rhetoric or anything else that basically says “This sucks!” But this is Fightlinker.com, and we are not quite as respectable as other sites And let me tell you what: This change fucking sucks.
I’ve tried to go through all this with a rational mind, which was hard because I hate Rashad Evans with the burning intensity of 1000 suns. It took me a while, but here’s a list of practical reasons to hate this change:
The drop in quality: Going from Shogun Rua to Rashad Evans as Chuck’s opponent is like shifting from 5th gear to reverse while doing 100MPH on the highway. Shogun was always considered next in line to the PRIDE throne after Wanderlei Silva, so this was like a mini-Chuck vs Wand all over again. The hype would have been amazing, with Rua vowing to avenge his defeated friend. Now we’re stuck with a guy in Rashad Evans who couldn’t get an interesting feud rolling with Tito “Drama Llama” Ortiz.
Rashad’s recent performances: People continue to lord Evans’ undefeated record like it matters, but the reality of the situation is that smart fans know he’s already lost twice. Tito Ortiz had to settle for a tie because he grabed the fence during an otherwise clear victory, and Michael Bisping also got the better of Rashad. That fight was ruled in Rashad’s favor by the grace of Bisping’s karma and a few blind refs. So is Rashad really the undefeated fighter with strong recent performances the UFC is trying to sell him as? Not really. The last impressive thing Rashad did was kick Sean Salmon’s head off, and even in that fight Rashad had lost the first round!
Another non-title card: I remember when Dana White was tripping balls over the fact that Travis Lutter didn’t make weight for his fight with Anderson Silva, leaving UFC 67 without a fight for a belt. Now it seems the UFC is okay with having cards from time to time with no belt on the line. Chuck was already involved with one of these at UFC 76. Ditto with Rashad at UFC 78. Now this headlining fight isn’t even a matchup between top-ranked fighters. And it’s effect on contendership has become very dubious indeed.
For all it’s flaws, there’s one plus this fight’s got going for it that infuriates me more than all the minuses I just laid out: that Rashad Evans is better known and more popular than Mauricio Rua to the average UFC fan, and that the fight will probably do better business on account of this change. And that makes me weep Pride fanboy tears into my pillow just thinking it.