Evans, Sonnen agree to Nov. 16 bout
Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and two-division contender Chael Sonnen will meet in the 205-pound UFC 167 co-main event on Nov. 16 in Las Vegas, promotion officials announced Wednesday.
"It's a fight that I am excited about," Evans told ESPN.com. "To have a fighter in front of you that motivates you to train, motivates you to go out there and bust your ass in training camp so that the fight will be easy, is something I haven't had in a while.
"I can't lose to Chael! I can't lose to Chael! That's my biggest motivating factor: I can't lose to this guy. I can't lose to him."
Welterweight titleholder Georges St-Pierre will be defending his belt against hard-hitting Johny Hendricks in the UFC 167 main event. While St. Pierre-Hendricks will receive top billing, an equal amount of the prefight spotlight likely will focus on Evans and Sonnen.
Both Sonnen and Evans are known to toss verbal assaults in the direction of their opponents. But this fight could pose a challenge in the trash-talking department, as Sonnen and Evans have developed a close relationship as commentators on "UFC Tonight." They first honed their television skills as regulars on ESPN's "MMA Live."
"I will keep [the trash talk] above the belt," Evans said. "I will keep it about the fight, not talk about him as a person. Trash talk can be a bit fun. But it can get serious to the point where we really have to fight each other.
"But you know where to leave it; you're not going to take it too far. You're not going to let it upset you, or let it emotionally hurt you because this is not that kind of trash-talking game."
Evans, who is ranked third among light heavyweights by ESPN.com, is seeking his second win in a row. In his most recent outing, on June 15 at UFC 161, he earned a split decision over Dan Henderson. The victory lifted Evans' professional record to 18-3-1.
Sonnen, who has spent most of his professional mixed martial arts career competing at middleweight, will be making his third straight appearance at light heavyweight. He submitted former 205-pound titleholder Mauricio Rua in the first round on Aug. 17 at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston.
Evans and Sonnen each has lost light heavyweight title bouts to current champion Jon Jones. Evans lost by unanimous decision in April 2012 at UFC 145; Sonnen was knocked out one year later at UFC 159.
Both also have faced and defeated middleweight contender Michael Bisping. Sonnen beat him by unanimous decision in a middleweight title eliminator on Jan. 28, 2012. Evans came away with a split decision at UFC 78 in November 2007.
Despite his recent run at 205 pounds, Sonnen has not abandoned the middleweight division. He continues to express interest in facing former 185-pound champion Anderson Silva a third time. Silva won each of their two meetings.
Sonnen (28-13-1) is ranked sixth among middleweights by ESPN.com.
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