Any fears that the long layoff between fights would have a negative effect on “Suga” Rashad Evans were laid to rest when he ended Tito Ortiz’s night at UFC 133 before the end of the second round.
Evans last fought at UFC 114, defeating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson via unanimous decision. The victory on May 29, 2010 set Evans up for a fight against then-UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. The fight would never come to fruition, as Rua underwent surgery, delaying the booking of the fight.
Once Rua was healed and the fight was on the horizon, Evans sustained a training camp injury, forcing him from the fight. Evans’ injury allowed Jon Jones to slip into the open position on the UFC 128 fight card. Jones dominated Rua during that bout, capturing the light heavyweight title via TKO stoppage.
Evans was set to face Jones in Jones’ first title defense, but that fight never became official, as Jones opted out in order to tend to a lingering hand injury. Instead, Evans was booked to fight at UFC 133 on August 6, against Phil Davis.
Davis was pulled from the fight due to a training camp injury and Ortiz stepped in to take his place, and so after 14 months out of the cage, Evans faced off against “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.
Evans looked relaxed when he entered the cage, dancing to his walk-in music, while Ortiz paced his side of the cage staring daggers into Evans.
When the fight started Ortiz was the first to engage, looking for a kick that Evans easily spun away from. As the first round progressed both fighters looked comfortable with their hands. With a little more than three minutes left in the first round Ortiz shot for a double-leg takedown that Evans fought off after a prolonged period of time against the cage.
With two minutes left in the round Evans let go a barrage of punches that marked up Ortiz’s face, but he hung in and created a separation with a nice knee. Evans then shot in for a double leg, lifting Ortiz onto his shoulder and slamming him to the mat. Evans immediately went to work with his hands, spending the remainder of the round looking to assault Ortiz from top position.
When the second round began Ortiz looked like he was a bit leery of exchanging hands with Evans. Evans then shot for a takedown and landed in a guillotine choke, but he was able to slip his head out. Evans then spent the majority of the round working in side guard, delivering a number of strikes to the head of Ortiz.
As time ticked down in the second round Ortiz found himself on his knees with his back against the cage and while knees to the head are not legal to a downed opponent, knees to the body are and that is exactly what a patient and focused Evans delivered, crumbling Ortiz to the mat. Evans followed the brutal knee with some ground-and-pound that left the referee no choice but to wave the fight off at the 4:48 mark of the second round.
The TKO win puts Evans at the top of the UFC light heavyweight food chain and he will very likely face the winner of the Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson bout that is scheduled for UFC 135 in Denver in September.
Evans seemed unconcerned about who will be wearing the belt when he fights for it, saying, “I’m getting my belt back.”
MMA fans will be looking forward to that fight as Evans and Jackson have shown a distinct dislike for each other as have former training partners Evans and Jones.