Evan Tanner rests during a recent workout session. Photo courtesy of Evan Tanner.
Ask anyone to make a list of the most underrated fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts and you will usually see Evan Tanner’s name on there every time.
Originally teaching himself submission and grappling techniques using instructional video tape, Tanner rode a roller coaster of ups and downs all the way to becoming the third middleweight champion in UFC history when he defeated David Terrell over two years ago.
“I never really set out to do that the first time,” said Tanner during a recent interview session. “I just kept winning fights and next thing you know, I’ve got the middleweight belt. I was just trying to pay the bills.”
The fall from grace was hard for Tanner. After losing his belt in a rematch against Rich Franklin in his next fight, Tanner would lose consecutive bouts for the first time in his career when he fell to David Loiseau just months later. He got back on track last April when he picked up a submission win over Justin Levens at UFC 59. It was his last fight to date. After taking a hiatus from active competition, it will be nearly two full years since the last time Tanner stepped into the Octagon.
At age 36, it would seem that Tanner is gearing up for one last run, wouldn’t it?
“I’ve been competing for over ten years,” Tanner said. “I didn’t start out fighting with any kind of plan. Wait that’s wrong. I did have a plan. I was only going to fight one night in a heavyweight tournament and then I planned to move on to other adventures. It was just something I was going to do once for kicks. I had never done any kind of MMA training until about two months before that fight. So I wouldn’t say I ever took any kind of run at fighting. It was, at best, a part time hobby that I enjoyed doing that also happened to pay fairly well. You can say I’m taking a run at it now. I’ve got a lot left in me. I’m training full time, year round for the first time in my career. I’m going for the belt.”
The road to the belt leads to one man as of right now. After dispatching of every opponent he has faced so far inside the UFC, current champion Anderson Silva doesn’t look like he’s going to be losing anytime soon. They say styles make fights. Well according to Tanner, he has the exact style that Silva doesn’t want to see.
“I just feel that my style matches up well with his,” stated Tanner. “I feel most of his opponents were tailor made for his style. They chose to try to play his game. You can’t do that with Anderson.”
With an opponent already lined up for his next fight, Tanner has been busy working with Josh Burkman, John Wood, and a wealth of others in preparation for his anticipated return. However that’s not the only thing that Tanner has been working on these days…
Enter Team Tanner. An idea that became a reality, Tanner is straying away from the usual suspects that MMA fighters are traditionally sponsored by and is giving the fans the chance to have their own spotlight. With perks ranging from a personalized shirt to training with Tanner himself and walking to the Octagon with him, it’s obvious why the concept has become so popular so fast.
“Team Tanner is going really well,” Tanner added. “The response has been great. We’re still in the building stages right now and I expect big things for the future. I really want to thank everyone who has joined the team. Thanks for the support. We’re going to make some big things happen in 2008.”
Anyone interested in joining Team Tanner can contact Kyria at firstname.lastname@example.org. A full description of the program including a list of sponsorship opportunities and more is available at Tanner’s official website.
MMA on Tap would like to thank Evan for taking his time to do this interview.