(Photo: Matt Wells)

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans returns to the Octagon this Saturday to take on Sam Alvey at UFC Fight Night New Mexico.

Evans is currently riding a three fight losing streak having been defeated by Glover Texeira, Ryan Bader and Daniel Kelly in his last three outings. With his last win coming over three years when he defeated Chael Sonnen at UFC 167, talk of his retirement has incresingly grown, but speaking to the UFC Unfiltered Podcast earlier this week, Evans insisted that he still has the fight within him to continue.

“It’s hard and a lot of people say I should stop and that I should quit, but I don’t feel the quit inside of me.”

“Maybe I’ll wake up one day and not be able to make the sacrifices that I need to in order to compete with an up and coming fighter, like I was, or who’s hungry and really wants to make a name for themselves and I fail to be able to put myself through it and make the sacrifices necessary, then I’ll decide I’m finished. By no means do I want to fool myself into getting myself beaten up or punch drunk or something like that. I still like I can keep competing and right now, in this place, I feel like I can compete.”

Evans then spoke about the difficulties of being on a three fight losing streak and how he’s had to overcome the damage it’s done to his ego.

“The hardest thing is getting past your ego and just getting pas the part where I know I haven’t fought to my level and I know I’m not where I used to be and I know what people say about me,” Evans said. “Getting past that ego part and suffering like the first kind of injury to like my ego and who I thought I was based on other people’s opinions.

“No matter what people say about me, I was who I was before anyone knew who I was.”

“I’ve always had that belief that I’m a champion and I’ve always had the belief that I can win and beat these top opponents before I did. When I now have to build myself back up, I have to put abandon that ego that I got so accustom to. I have to let go of the person that these people built me in to. I have to just go out there and compete for me.”

While he’s not ready to retire yet, Evans does have one eye on life after his professional fighting career. Remaining in the sport of MMA in various analyst and commentator roles is something he wants to do, but he also wants to provide a pathway for troubled youths.

“I think that I definitely enjoy the fights, but my 37-year-old mind is definitely different to my 25-year-old mind when I first started in the UFC,” Evans said. “I definitely think about other things and other things do definitely interest me. I think about doing the commentary thing, I want to continue to work with the UFC in some capacity. How about work with the fighters and management and whatever you know.

“I want to stay as close to the sport as possible and I want to do kids programmes for inner city kids who are really struggling to be productive in society.”

“You see these kids joining these gangs and you see a lot of these kids in Chicago and South Florida doing all these crimes because there’s really nothing else for them to do. If there was a gym or a different kind of gang for them to join, something productive to motivate them, then I think it can make an impact.”