Throughout the prime of his career, Rashad Evans was one of the top light heavyweight fighters in the UFC. After winning TUF season 2 as a heavyweight, he moved back down to 205lbs to begin his quest for a championship.
'Suga' remained unbeaten following his TUF win and defeated some of the top fighters in the division in spectacular fashion. His knockout power and collegiate wrestling background made him a difficult matchup. After losing the light heavyweight championship to Lyoto Machida, he continued to be successful and earned another title shot in 2012.
He came up short against then champion Jon Jones and wouldn't have the same success after that bout. In 2019, he was announced as the latest inductee into the Modern era wing of the Hall of Fame. This list will look back at five UFC champions that Rashad Evans has defeated.
#5) Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping
It was a significant event for the promotion when Evans fought Michael Bisping at UFC 78. It was the first time two Ultimate Fighter winners fought in the octagon. Evans won TUF season 2 as a heavyweight, while Bisping won TUF season 3 as a light heavyweight.
It was a back-and-forth bout as the two competed in a three-round main event. 'Suga' stuck to his wrestling in the first round and managed to take down 'The Count' and maintain control. He continued to apply pressure and attempt takedowns even when Bisping would get back up to his feet.
'The Count' was much better in the second round and had success with his striking and in the clinch. Although 'Suga' looked visibly tired after the second round, he managed to take Bisping down twice in the third round. Evans earned a split-decision win after the judges scored the bout 29-28, 28-29, and 29-28.
#4) Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz
Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz have fought twice in each other's legendary careers. Their 2007 encounter ended in a draw, but their 2011 bout would end in a finish. Both were at different stages of their careers in 2011.
The rematch came to fruition after Jon Jones and his replacement Phil Davis were forced to withdraw due to injury. 'The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' accepted the bout and made the rematch with 'Suga' official. Ortiz was a month removed from his upset submission win over Ryan Bader and looked to earn a title shot. Evans was looking to remain active while then champion 'Bones' was out of action.
'The Huntington Beach Bad Boy' did well in the first round. But 'Suga' ended up getting the better of him in the second round. He landed a vicious knee to the body on Ortiz and then finished him with strikes at 4:48. Both fighters received performance bonuses for Fight of the Night.
#3) Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson
The rivalry between Evans and Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson was one of the biggest in UFC history. The animosity between the two was on full display when they coached opposite one another in TUF season 10.
'Suga' caught 'Rampage' off guard in the opening exchange as he landed a big right-hand and then charged at him. He secured a takedown and used his wrestling to his advantage. Jackson was forced to fight off his back for the majority of the fight. This took 'Rampage's threat of connecting with a knockout blow out of the equation.
To Evans' credit, he didn't take any chances getting into a slugfest with a knockout artist like Jackson. He kept his distance from 'Rampage' and kept the fight in the clinch. Despite a brief moment in the third round that saw Jackson land a right-hand, Evans did enough. 'Suga' earned a split-decision win and bragging rights over his rival.
#2) Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin
UFC 92 was the biggest night of Rashad Evans' MMA career as he became the new light heavyweight champion. It was another significant moment for the promotion as the TUF season one winner and TUF season two winners competed in the main event.
It was an entertaining bout that saw both fighters have their moments. Griffin did well with his leg-kicks in the opening rounds and forced Evans to change his stance on a few occasions. But, 'Suga' held his own and found success using his jab and powerful hooks.
It was evident that Evans needed a big performance in the third-round to change the momentum of the fight. That's what happened as he dropped Griffin with a straight-right and finished him with ground-and-pound to become the new champion.
#1) Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell
Evans' win over Chuck Liddell was arguably the most significant of his UFC career. It was a massive opportunity for him to prove himself against the biggest star in the sport at the time.
'Suga' came into the fight with a 11-0-1 MMA record and having recently defeated TUF season three winner Michael Bisping. 'The Iceman' was coming off a unanimous decision win over Wanderlei Silva that snapped a two-fight losing skid. Both were looking to get into title contention and a big win could make a strong argument.
Evans maintaining the distance and avoiding Liddell's power didn't make for a very entertaining first round. But he made up for it in the second round. After having success landing a left-jab, 'Suga' connected with a devastating right-hand that knocked 'The Iceman' out immediately. Liddell wasn't the same after that as he would lose his next three bouts by KO/TKO and retire in 2010.