It wasn’t long ago, less than 18 months really, when fans and pundits were busy discussing whether Rashad Evans might have the tools to defeat reigning light-heavyweight king Jon Jones. After all, before the two rivals met at UFC 145 last April, Evans had won four straights bouts and had defeated the likes of Thiago Silva, “Rampage” Jackson and Phil Davis in the process. The only man to beat him until that point was Lyoto Machida.

Now, as UFC 161 draws near, the storyline surrounding Evans is much different. The former champ is coming off back-to-back, unanimous decision losses to Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and Evans has been forced to face critics who’ve questioned his desire. Of course, Evans has assured the masses heading into Saturday’s card that he’s back, and is looking to rebound from his disappointing performances. Case in point, in an report from USA Today, the 33 year-old vet relayed the following:

“I turned down the swagger a little because I wanted to be more focused in my competitions. But when I did that, I took a little piece away from me. I took a little of that go inside of me that pushed me, that part that made me get into a dogfight with anybody and do anything to get the win.”

“When I go out there and compete, I have to be cocky. That’s how I compete. I have to have my swag out there and be like that because that’s a part of me. It’s a part you’d never see of me in regular life because I joke around and smile, and you don’t see that side.”

Now, depending on one’s view of “swagger”, “showboating”, or whatever you want to call it, Evans’ revelation might not sit too well. That said, considering he’s taking on one of the baddest men to ever step into the cage in Dan Henderson, if Evans needs to play things up a bit to be at his best, it might be a good idea.

The June 15th, UFC 161 will be hosted by the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba and the main card will be available via pay-per-view.

Photo credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports