Rejuvenated Evans Eyes Title Shot After UFC 133 Win

By Mike Whitman Aug 6, 2011
Prior to UFC 133, many observers, including UFC President Dana White, felt that former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans might not look quite right after 14 months away from the cage.

Apparently, somebody forgot to tell Evans (Pictured; file photo), as “Suga” looked razor sharp in dismantling Tito Ortiz in their Saturday main event at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

“I’m a big believer in ring rust,” White quipped at the post-fight press conference. “Rashad f---ed up my theory tonight.”

Evans used excellent takedown defense early in the bout, fending off a charging Ortiz with his back to the cage. After escaping the grasp of “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” Evans appeared to find his rhythm standing, rifling off crisp combination to the head and body of his slower foe.

“Speed was definitely the difference,” said Evans. “I just took my time with it. I knew Tito would try to get at me early, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t rush into anything. I set up my standup so things went right.”

Evans then seized full control of the cage, diving for his own double-leg and hoisting Ortiz high before slamming him forcefully to the mat to inflict damage from top position. Though the second round would mimic the end of the first, Evans found himself in hot water for a split second when he shot for a takedown and left his neck exposed. Ortiz attempted to snatch both the opportunity and Evans’ throat, grabbing an arm-in guillotine -- the maneuver he used to finish Ryan Bader just one month ago at UFC 132.

Evans would not succumb to the choke, however, as the former Michigan State Spartan expertly defended the submission attempt while passing to half-guard.

“Right before the fight, I was working with Renzo Gracie on defending [the arm-in guillotine],” said Evans. “Once I pushed my head down and pushed [Ortiz’s] knee down, I didn’t feel the pressure. The worst thing you can do is try to pull out when you’re in that.”

After escaping the submission, Evans began to drop punishment on the 14-year pro. Though Ortiz tried valiantly to scramble to his feet, he was eventually trapped on his knees against the cage in round two. Evans did not hesitate to strike, finishing the fight with a brutal knee to the solar plexus followed by more punches to his helpless adversary.

“I was especially conscious of [not kneeing Ortiz in the head],” said Evans. “He [lifted] one knee up, then put it down. For a minute, I was thinking about the knee so much that I forgot to punch him. So I punched him, then kneed him in the body instead.”

Ortiz stepped up to face Evans in a rematch of their 2007 pairing out of necessity, as Evans was originally slated to face both Phil Davis and Jon Jones before each dropped out of the event due to injury. Now the light heavyweight champion, Jones was once a teammate of Evans’ at Greg Jackson’s MMA. That tie now severed, Evans looks forward to reclaiming his title, preferably from his former teammate and friend, provided Jones can successfully defend his belt against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135 in September.

“I would prefer to [win the title] from Jones. You think I’m cocky? He’s for-real cocky. He’s like go-to-sleep-praising-himself cocky. I would love to teach him a lesson. I know where Jon’s weak and he knows where I’m weak. So we’ll see who covers those [weak areas] first,” said Evans. “If he makes it past Rampage, I’ll have a chance to do that. I think Rampage should train in my camp for this fight.”

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