CHICAGO -- Based on the less-than-favorable receptions former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans receives from fans whenever he is introduced, it’s safe to say that most don’t care for him much.
But whether fans like Evans or not, no one can say the man doesn’t speak his mind. Evans can be brutally honest about his feelings toward whoever happens to be his opponent, or potential opponent, for a given event.
Fast-rising Phil Davis is the man who now gets to hear Evans’ personal thoughts about him. And considering the statements Evans has uttered in recent weeks, he doesn’t have a favorable opinion of the man who will oppose him Saturday night in the Octagon at UFC on Fox 2.
“A fight is a fight. And sometimes it’s easier to fight somebody when you don’t like them,” Evans said during a news conference on Friday. “For the most part I’ve really got nothing against Phil, but we have to fight each other so I have a lot against him right now.”
Finding a reason to dislike Davis is difficult. He is one of the kindest guys in the sport and never has a harsh word to say to anyone.
But after digging, Evans fought something negative to pin on Davis: His resume. As far as Evans is concerned, Davis has no business in the cage with him at this time. Evans prides himself on facing the best fighters at 205 pounds, and he doesn't believe Davis fits the criteria.
“Phil is just a nice guy,” Evans said during a recent conference call. “He’s not a fighter. He’s an athlete, a great athlete, but not a fighter. He has no killer instinct for this and he’s got no experience at this level.
“He’s never fought at heavyweight like I had to [on “The Ultimate Fighter” 2] to get into the UFC. He didn’t get punched by Chuck Liddell and Jackson like I did.
“He’s not had to dig deep at all. He’s in deep water, and I’m the shark.”
White not buying Lawal’s denials
Former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed Lawal vehemently denies ever taking an anabolic steroid, despite a recent positive test result administered by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Lawal tested positive for Drostanolone.
“I’m very surprised about this,” Lawal told ESPN.com’s Josh Gross earlier this month. “I’m very careful about what I put in my body. I’ve never tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. I’ve gone through, and still welcome, Olympic-style testing.
“I will do whatever is necessary to get to the bottom of this.”
But UFC president Dana White isn’t moved by Lawal’s passionate pleas. White wants Lawal to take a different approach.
“If you get caught doing something, admit you did it,” White told ESPN.com. “This whole, ‘somebody put something in my system that I didn’t know about.’ ... Who here lets somebody put s--- in them that you don’t know about?
“I don’t buy that s---. Own up to what you did. Everybody makes mistakes.”
White went on to say that Lawal or any fighter who tests positive for a performance-enhancing drug and fails to admit the error of his ways risks never again fighting in a Zuffa-promoted event.
So what does the future hold for Lawal or former Strikeforce women’s featherweight titleholder Cristaine Santos, who also recently tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug earlier this month?
“I don’t know,” White said. “It depends on how they handle themselves. We will see.”
Title shot likely for Miller-Diaz winner
It’s too soon to start calling the lightweight showdown between Jim Miller and Nate Diaz a title eliminator, but that is likely to be the case when they step inside the cage May 5 in East Rutherford, N.J.
“Obviously the guy who wins that fight will probably get a shot at the title,” White told ESPN.com.
When asked about Pettis’ status, White said: “I don’t know. We’ll see.”
While the Miller-Diaz winner has a good chance of fighting for the lightweight title, the fight won’t headline the UFC on Fox 3 card. White said he is still working to put a high-profile main event together for that event.