Rashad Evans has shown MMA fans what it means to persevere. Evans came back from being knocked out by Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 to win a unanimous decision over Thiago Silva. The win over Silva placed Evans in a fight with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to earn the right to be the top contender for the light heavyweight title at UFC 114.
The former Ultimate Fighter champion has had a successful career after winning the show and a three-year, six-figure contract with the UFC. Since moving to the light heavyweight division after the show, Evans has gone 9-1-1, bringing his career record to 14-1-1.
Evans has won impressive decisions against UFC veterans like Chuck Liddell, who he knocked out to receive the knockout of the night at UFC 88. That victory earned him a title shot against Forrest Griffin at UFC 92. He TKO’d Griffin at that event to earn the light heavyweight title. In May 2009 he would defend his title for the first time against Lyoto Machida.
The event was UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida, the place: Las Vegas, Nevada. Evans was hit with a flurry of punches from Machida that downed him in the second round near the four minute mark. After the fight, Evans was forced to re-evaluate his style. The former Michigan State star felt he had gotten away from his wrestling roots.
“Even though I was winning, I was losing all along,” said Evans, “and the reason I say that is because the way I was winning was not really my fighting style. It’s good to be able to mix it up and be able to exchange and go toe-to-toe with anybody, but at the same time, you should never get away from your base and what you are. If you do, it’s just a matter of time before you get found out and you lose.”
So Evans returned to the style that had made his so successful against his UFC opponents. The change showed when he used strikes to set up wrestling maneuvers that kept him ahead of Thiago Silva during their fight in January. Dana White declared that if Evans beat Silva, then he and Rampage would meet for a chance to be the number one contender.
During the Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights season, Evans and Jackson were opposing coaches. Their budding rivalry was showcased to fight fans all over the world.
Evans and Rampage were scheduled to fight at UFC 113 for number one contender status, but Rampage had been unavailable while shooting the new A-Team movie.
MMA Sportsbooks have slated Jackson as the slight favorite over Evans at UFC 114. Jackson’s odds for winning are set at -122, while Evan’s line is -108