Rivalries: Rashad Evans
Sign up for ESPN + here, and then you can stream UFC, PFL, Dana White’s Contender Series, and “The Ultimate Fighter” live to your smart TV, computer, phone, tablet, or streaming device through the ESPN app. Rashad Evans, on December 27, 2008, became only the eighth man to reach the top of the Ultimate Fighting Championship at 205 pounds. While his reign as a light heavyweight champion lasted only 147 days, his accomplishments continued to resonate long after his run as an elite mixed martial artist ended. Evans won season 2 of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series as an undersized heavyweight, demoted a weight class, and pieced together a Hall of Fame resume over his 14-year career. in MMA. He made his last appearance inside the Octagon in June 2018, when he suffered a blow to the knee from Anthony Smith 53 seconds after their showdown at UFC 225. Evans, now aged 42 years old, has a professional record of 19-8-1. He was inducted into the Modern Era Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2019.
As Evans’ competitive exploits delve deeper into the story, a look at some of the rivalries that helped shape his successful career:
“The Iceman” was no longer the undisputed light heavyweight champion, and his Hall of Fame career seemed to end when he faced Evans in the headliner of UFC 88 on September 6, 2008 in the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Evans, meanwhile, was on the rise. His speed and athleticism proved problematic for the aging Liddell. Countless opponents had been drawn into Liddell’s counters, but Evans stuck to his game plan, stepped away from danger and forced the San Luis Obispo, Calif., Native to pursue him. This allowed John Hackleman’s protege to reach with his punches, and he’s done it once too many. Evans timed one of his attacks perfectly and planted a crushing right hook in the jaw of the former champion who flipped the stop switch, hundreds of Liddell’s Mohawk supporters backing into the crowd. Referee Herb Dean arrived at the scene at 1:51 am of the second round to request the stop. Silenced by the coup de grace, spectators were sure they had witnessed a death. Three months later, Evans won the UFC light heavyweight crown. Liddell never won another fight.
With a game plan steeped in speed, eliminations, and superior melee work, Evans defeated “Rampage” by unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 114 on May 29, 2010 at the MGM Grand Garden. Las Vegas Arena. The scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27, as Evans had the final say after the two trained against each other in season 10 of the reality series “The Ultimate. Fighter “. “Suga” started off with a bang when he sent Jackson back with a right hand in the opening rally. The Niagara Falls, New York native immediately switched to melee and began to chomp at Jackson’s resolve. Evans scored with a takedown with 2:15 left in the first round and rushed to an early lead in one of the most emotionally charged grudge matches in UFC history. The second round followed a similar pattern. Evans continued to push the melee and kept his opponent’s back pressed against the cage. Visibly frustrated, the tired Jackson retreated to his corner and needed a knockout at the end of the second round. He had his chance in the third, where he bullied Evans in the cage, fidgeted and threatened to finish him down. Evans resisted the attack and Jackson, possibly running out of gas, couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, even though his counterpart faltered in front of him. Evans closed hard, as he delivered another takedown with 1:45 to go, pinned Jackson against the cage and dropped punches from the top.
A vicious and beautifully executed knee kick to the body crippled Ortiz and sent Evans to a technical second round knockout in the headliner of UFC 133 on August 6, 2011 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” lost 4:48 in the second round. Backed by superior athleticism, speed and power, Evans outclassed the Californian for vast spans of combat – a rematch of their July 2007 meeting at UFC 73 that ended in a draw. There was no doubt about this one. Evans resisted a pullout in the first round, got to his feet and let go of his hands, causing Ortiz to swarm with punches against the cage. Many were blocked, but the assault shook the resolve of the founder of Team Punishment. Evans then executed a powerful slam, passed the guard to lateral control, and settled in with his ground and pound. Ortiz survived, but he left the first round damaged and breathless. He made one last attempt to secure an unlikely victory 90 seconds after the start of the second round, where he strangled a guillotine choke. However, he failed to surround Evans in full guard, and “Suga” broke free with minimal effort, moved to a top position, and trapped Ortiz disappearing into a mounted crucifix. Elbows dropped, as Ortiz darted forward from below. Later, with Ortiz sitting against the cage, Evans delivered a devastating knee to the breastbone. Ortiz folded, as the finish became imminent. Referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in seconds later.
“Bones” controlled distance, unveiled an endless bag of tricks and maintained his grip on the 205-pound division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as he defeated Evans by unanimous decision to retain his light heavyweight crown in the main event of UFC 145 on April 21, 2012 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. All three judges saw it for Jones: 49-46, 49-46 and 50-45. His prodigious attacking talent and creativity was something to see. The Jackson-Wink MMA rep tore Evans to pieces with kicks in the leg, body and head, a stiff left kick, crackling right hands, and even violent melee shoulder strikes. However, his most effective weapon was the standing elbow, a technique for which Evans seemed totally unprepared. He almost finished the fight for Jones in the second round, where he shifted his old friend and training partner against the cage. A flying knee and a beautiful left hook followed soon after. Evans, like others who came before him, struggled to get around Jones’ huge reach advantage. He landed a clean header in the first round that appeared to shake Jones up and delivered a nice right hand in the third. Beyond that, he mostly fought with his back to the cage, eating punches and kicks from a distance. Jones punctuated his latest conquest with a solid fifth round, as he pressed a jab with a crisp right hand, opened a clinch knee and scored with the only out of the bout. Evans broke free, perhaps wary of the champion’s infamous nudges on the ground, but his fate had long been sealed.
Evans made the mistake of playing the game of Pride Fighting Championships veterans and ended up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision in the UFC 156 co-feature on February 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. All three judges reached the same verdict: 29-28 for Nogueira. The well-traveled Brazilian kept Evans at the end of his stiff right jab and robust left center for much of the fairly uneventful 15-minute showdown. Evans got his only out late in the first round, allowing Nogueira to settle into a rhythm on the feet. Neither man had much impact in the standing rally, but Nogueira hit with more volume, precision and authority in the second and third rounds, helping him carry the scorecards. It was the first time in Evans’ career that he had suffered back-to-back defeats. He won just two of his next seven fights before retiring in 2018.