Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans was to have made his middleweight debut vs. Tim Kennedy at UFC 205. Unfortunately, in what was apparently an abundance of caution, he was removed from the card by the New York State Athletic Commission, due to an irregularity on his MRI. The abnormality was identified in October, and Evans took follow-up tests as directed by the NYSAC, but they were apparently insufficient.
The fighter worked four to six hours per day for months, and was in the midst of a massive cut leaving him looking like Bruce Lee when he got the terrible news. Now, in his first one-on-one, in-person interview since the fight cancellation, Evans spoke with Amy Dash for BE. With characteristic grace, Evans expressed regret and empathy for his opponent Kennedy losing the fight.
Then Evans turned to the test irregularity. He declined to reveal what it was, to avoid having it blown out of proportion. He did, however, say it existed throughout his entire career, is not going away, and there is nothing he can do to lessen it. Other commissions, presumably a number of them, have approved his medicals despite the abnormality.
“I’m healthy. I don’t want it to be a thing where it’s like ‘oh he has this issue.’” said Evans. “You never know how people are gonna take things, especially when everything is so politically correct nowadays.”
“The way it was explained to me, the irregularity that I have with my MRI, a lot of people have that, who are not professional fighters. It’s just an irregularity, it could happen to anyone. I’ve talked to specialists and they say there’s really no reason why they should’ve not had me fight, especially with all the follow-up and everything else.”
“It’s a discretionary thing. Every commission has a right to allow certain things and not allow certain things. This is their first MMA fight. They are precautious and they didn’t wanna take a chance.…Of course, they could’ve rendered their decision before I got on the plane.”
The fight with Kennedy has been rescheduled for UFC 206, and Evans plans to stay in New York to coach Michael Johnson vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov and enjoy the show.
“I didn’t get to fight here,” he said. “But this moment and what it means to fight in New York is bigger than me and it didn’t work out for me but everything’s not for me. One day something will be for me and it’ll be great, but this wasn’t for me.”