NEW YORK — Rashad Evans was four days away from living out a dream.
The native of Niagara Falls, N.Y was sitting on a plane Tuesday afternoon headed from Florida to New York, where he was set to compete on the first UFC card at Madison Square Garden against Tim Kennedy Saturday night.
And then, in an instant, that dream vanished.
Evans received a letter, while still on the plane, from the New York State Athletic Commission, informing him that he would not be granted a license to fight Kennedy on Nov. 12.
According to Evans, an Oct. 19 MRI revealed “irregular findings.” He was then asked by the NYSAC to undergo further tests, which Evans says he passed.
After that, Evans, who declined to disclose the exact medical issue that came up, thought he was in the clear. And then Tuesday’s e-mail came.
“I’m disappointed,” Evans told MMAFighting.com. “I’m healthy. I don’t want anyone worrying about me. I’m fine, physically speaking. Never felt better. It’s just the commission and their rules. I guess they have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this.”
Evans, who was set to make his middleweight debut at UFC 205 and currently weighs 196 pounds, said Tuesday’s disappointment will not stop him from fighting again. In fact, he’s hoping the UFC books him in December.
“Man, I had something special for Tim,” he said.
“This doesn’t change the fact that I want to fight. This doesn’t change anything for me as far as fighting.”
As for Kennedy, it’s unclear what the UFC will do with him. When initially contacted by MMAFighting.com, his management team had no idea the fight was off and said Kennedy was on a plane and wasn’t aware, either. He found out the news upon landing in New York.
Evans, 37, was hoping to snap a two-fight losing streak on Saturday night in his new weight class. And as one of only two New York-born fighters on the card (Chris Weidman being the other), he had a lot of family and friends planning on attending the event. As of this writing, Evans wasn’t sure if he was going to stay in New York to watch the card or go back home to Florida.
“In life, if it ain’t one thing it’s another,” he said. “I won’t get beat down by this.”