By Matt Parrino
Niagara Gazette — Everything was going Rashad Evans' way.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion had won four-straight fights — two of which against future hall of famers Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson — and was set to compete in one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport, for the very belt he had lost almost three years earlier against his biggest rival and the sport's reigning phenom, Jon "Bones" Jones.
Then he lost.
It's been 10 months since the Jones fight and Evans is back and ready to step into the octagon once again tonight at UFC 156, when he faces Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the 205-pound matchup.
UFC President Dana White raised the stakes on Friday when he said if Evans, a Niagara Falls native, beats Nogueira and is open to moving down a weight class, he'd consider a match against Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight championship, according to a report by Yahoo Sports.
Evans has been vocal about wanting a rematch with Jones for the 205-pound title, but he may be swayed by an immediate title opportunity considering there are likely a few other light heavyweights in line for Jones before the former champ.
But regardless of what happens in the future, tonight Evans is confident he will get the job done against Nogueira.
"The key to beating Nogeira is beating him everywhere he finds safety," Evans said in a release. "Respectfully speaking, I don't think his boxing is something I haven't seen before."
Evans is referring to his training partners in the Blackzilians camp, including world-renowned strikers Alistar Overeem, Vitor Belfort and Thiago Silva.
Evans has said he's had a great training camp and attributes a lot of credit to his training partners. The former Ultimate Fighter winner is a wrestler that has developed a great deal as a striker. He holds a knockout win over Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell and tends to keep his fights standing more than ever before.
Evans has boldy predicted that he will be victorious tonight.
"I'm not really thinking I'm going to see something I've never seen," he said. "It may sound cocky if I speak honestly and say that I'm not really worried about him, but I'm not. … I will defeat Nogueira."
UFC 156 begins at 10 p.m. tonight on pay per view with the preliminary fights airing on FX starting at 8 p.m.Contact Tonawanda News sports editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117.