On April 10th, 2004, a future champion in Rashad Evans would make his professional MMA career, which would lead to championships, legendary status, and no shortage of amazing moments.
On June 25th, 2018, via: the Ariel Halwani show on ESPN, ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans would announce his retirement from MMA following a KO loss earlier this month, making it five straight losses in a row. Unwilling to “fool” himself for any longer, the former Light Heavyweight champion called it a career.
Now, FightBook MMA takes a look back at Evans’ monumental career, for a top ten moment countdown.
10: Professional MMA Debut
On April 10th, 2004, Evans would rise up from the amateurs as a 3-0 prospect, to not only make his professional MMA debut that night, but compete twice in one night. Under the Dangerzone: Cage Fighting banner, Rashad would first fight Dennis Reed, where he would finish the fight by Submission (anaconda choke) in the first round. If one dominant victory wasn’t enough, ‘Suga’ would then move on, taking on a man named Danny Anderson, where he would also finish the fight within the first round, this time by TKO (punches). Leading into his UFC debut, Evans would continue to have multiple fights on one night, and if not on the same night, he would compete two days in a row. This was just the beginning…
9: Defeating Chael Sonnen at UFC 167
At UFC 167, on Nov. 16th, 2013, Evans would return to action following a split decision victory over the now hall-of-famer, Dan ‘Hendo’ Henderson, and little did anyone know, this would be Rashad’s final MMA victory inside the octagon. In dominant fashion, as displayed by ‘Suga’ in previous fights, he would with ease force Chael Sonnen to the canvas, where the fight would only last a total of 4:05. As a former Division 1 wrestler, Evans was able to showcase his wrestling skills, and ultimately finish the bout via: TKO (punches).
8: Defeating Phil Davis, Solidifying a Title Shot
After losing his title to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans was put back at the bottom of the latter, where he would now climb back into hopeful title contention once again. After defeating Thiago Silva, ‘Rampage’ Jackson, and then Tito Ortiz, Evans had earned a title eliminator bout against the undefeated (9-0) wrestler, Phil Davis. This would be a clash of former Division 1 wrestlers. In the end, it was Rashad who would walk away victorious, as he was given the unanimous decision victory after a five round war.
7: Coaching TUF 10: Heavyweights, Victory Over ‘Rampage’ Jackson
Formerly competing on the Ultimate Fighter, Rashad Evans was now in a position to coach the show, as the UFC was looking to bring in new Heavyweight talent. At the time, the biggest opponent Evans could be up against was his now rival, ‘Rampage’ Jackson, who would coach opposite of Rashad. The season brought out many emotions in both coaches and their teams. There were dozens of moments that had fans on the edge of their seat, as it looked as though the two would square off prior to their up-and-coming fight date at UFC 114. While tempers remained at bay (somewhat), the two would finish out the season and meet in the octagon on May 29th, 2010. During this time, Evans was looking to create a resume for himself, as he was in search what was taken from him in his knockout loss to Lyoto Machida. After three rounds, Rashad would earn the decision victory in a somewhat lack luster fight, but now create for himself a solid base to move forward in later challenging for the LHW title.
6: A Record Blemish at the Hands of Lyoto Machida
On the morning of May 23rd, 2009, Rashad Evans woke up the current LHW champion, and undefeated in his professional MMA career (13-0-1). On that night, at UFC 98, he would put his title on the line against karate specialist, Lyoto Machida. With just over a minute remaining in the second round, Machida starched Evans, where he would obtain a highlight reel finish of the then champion, officially putting a loss on the record of Rashad’s. While this may not be the most positive highlight of Evans’ career, it is a highlight still used to this day as one of the best knockouts, and also promotion for Lyoto Machida. Rashad would later try his luck at winning the championship back against Jon Jones, but fall short in a decision loss to the rising star.
5: Defeating Thiago Silva, Entering Back into the Win Column
Following his title loss to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans would look to bounce back against the 14-1 rising star, Thiago Silva. At UFC 108, he would resort back to his roots, using his wrestling to help control most of the fight, leading him to a unanimous decision victory at the end of three rounds. This win, while many argue he “played it safe”, would put him back in the win column and on the road to a title shot.
4: Defeating Forrest Griffin, Becoming the Light Heavyweight Champion
After success on the Ultimate Fighters season 2, victories over the likes of Chuck Liddell and Michael Bisping, Evans would set himself up for a title shot against the reigning champion, and former TUF victor, Forrest Griffin. Coming off of a devastating knockout of the legend, Chuck Liddell, Evans would show no signs of slowing down in his big opportunity to become the champ. At 2:46 in the third round of a five round title fight, Evans would stop Griffin via: TKO (punches), and be crowned with gold by the President of the UFC, Dana White. Evans would lose his title in his next outing against Lyoto Machida.
3: Knockout of Chuck Liddell
Since early on in the companies history, Chuck Liddell was the go to guy for the UFC in terms of big fights and promotion. After years of success under the Zuffa banner, the now hall-of-famer would square up against rising star, Rashad Evans. Once locked inside the octagon, nobody could have imagined what was to come next.
1:51 into the second round, Evans would land the mother of all punches, putting ‘The Iceman’ to sleep on his feet in a highlight reel knockout, then crashing to the floor where he would remain asleep for a somewhat lengthy period. This victory would push Evans towards a title fight, where he would then become the Light Heavyweight Champion.
2: Head Kick Knockout of Sean Salmon
Just when you thought something couldn’t top the knockout of Chuck Liddell, we go further back, when Rashad Evans landed a brutal head kick, instantly knocking out Sean Salmon, sending him to the mat in nothing short of a hurry. Evans would now become 10-0 in his ten professional MMA outings, and also become one of the most hard to watch highlight reels to date. This would become Salmon’s second loss of his career, and if you fast forward to 2013, his record is 18-21.
1: Becoming the Ultimate Fighter
After going 5-0 in professional MMA, Evans would receive the call from the boss, Dana White, offering a spot on the up-and-coming season of the Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the second season. Rashad would have to compete at Heavyweight, as this season of the show would focus on both the Heavyweights and Welterweights. After accepting the challenge and making it through the tournament bracket, Evans would find himself on the TUF 2 finale, where he would fight for the contract, and also the title: The Ultimate Fighter. In a close battle, which resulted in a split decision, Rashad Evans would come out victorious over Brad Imes, in which he would become the first ever HW TUF winner. His success on the SPIKE aired show would be just the start to his legendary career, where he would become the Light Heavyweight champion, coach the Ultimate Fighter, and be a part of unforgettable fights and highlight reel knockouts.
Rashad Evans since his TUF 2 Finale win would continue to compete for the UFC for 13 years, retiring on June 25th, 2018.
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(photos taken from Zuffa, LLC., CagePotato)