Published Saturday, May 29, 2010 | 4:38 p.m.
Updated Saturday, May 29, 2010 | 10:16 p.m.
Using a combination of speed and wrestling ability, Rashad Evans emerged from Saturday’s grudge match against Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson with his hands raised.
After clearly taking the first two rounds, Evans (20-1-1) survived a scare in the final round when Jackson caught him with a hard right uppercut while he shot for a takedown.
As Jackson (30-8) jumped on top of him looking to finish the fight, Evans found a way to lean into his opponent and eventually work back to his feet and hang on for the unanimous decision win.
“I went out for a little bit,” Evans said. “That’s what happens. I had to fight through it in my mind. I wasn’t about to give up.”
Evans took early control of the fight, landing a hard straight right that staggered Jackson in the opening moments of the first round.
From there, Evans effectively used the jab to keep Jackson out of rhythm and set up his takedown attempts. He ended up winning by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
With all of the emotions both fighters had entering the fight, Evans admitted there was a sense of relief knowing that it was over.
“It’s a huge relief for me,” Evans said.
Both fighters were surprisingly complimentary towards one another during the post-fight interviews.
While making no excuses, Jackson said that his time away from the octagon might have been a factor. His last fight goes all the way back to last March.
“I tried my best,” Jackson said. “Rashad is tough and I could tell he worked hard. He was faster than I anticipated. Millions of other guys wish they could come in here and do what we do but they can’t. I trained my hardest and I gave 100 percent of my ability.
“I was very surprised he could recover (from the third-round shot.) I put all my energy into that (expletive.) I guess the ring rust was a factor.”
The win earned Evans the opportunity to be the first to take on newly crowned light heavyweight champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. Evans has already held the UFC title. He won it with a TKO win over Forrest Griffin in 2008 before losing it in his first defense to Lyoto Machida last May.
Quinton Jackson (30-7) vs. Rashad Evans (19-1-1)
Round One: Jackson comes forward to start the fight, Evans waits for him. Evans with a huge overhand right that staggers Jackson immediately. Jackson recovers and goes up against the cage as Evans clinches. Jackson hanging on as it looks like he’s still trying to clear his head. Crowd chanting ‘Rampage.’ Evans trying to get low on Jackson for a takedown but Jackson gets a wide stance and defends it with his back still against the cage. Evans unable to get it down and referee Herb Dean separates them with just under three minutes to go. Evans swings high and then goes low for an explosive takedown. Jackson is on his back against the cage and Evans works into half-guard and looks to ground and pound. Jackson to his feet but he eats some punches in the process. Evans again has him pressed up against the cage. Jackson proving to be very difficult to take down in this position and Dean breaks them up again. Evans goes for another takedown, Jackson defends and lands some good shots at the end of the round.
Round Two: Second round begins with a lot of feeling out and crowd begins to chant ‘Rampage’ again. Evans closes the gap and pushes Jackson’s back to the cage again. Jackson trying to create some space and finally he shoves Evans away. Evans crouching low and swaying his body around n a dance almost. Evans lands a jab and shoots a takedown. Jackson defends and it’s right back to the clinch against the cage. Dean doesn’t let it go on long here, breaking the clinch with just over two minutes to go in the round. Evans goes in for a jab and Jackson throws a mean right-handed counter that misses. Evans throws the jab again before working into the clinch. Evans going hard for the takedown, dragging Jackson down by the waist. Jackson proving to be too strong though and stays on his feet as the round ends.
Round Three: Evans works a jab and then backs up. Jackson tries to catch a big straight right, Evans tries to clinch him up, gets shoved off and Jackson almost lands a huge right hook. Evans goes for a takedown and Jackson lands a big right uppercut that floors him. Evans in trouble against the fence. Jackson has him down and is looking to posture up. Evans hanging on to him for dear life. Trying to keep him close and unable to throw punches. Three minutes still to go in the round. Evans works to his feet and Jackson has a single leg hold on him. Jackson gives it up and their back on their feet. Jackson stalking Evans around the cage but not letting his hands go at all. Two minutes to go, Jackson throws a right hand that Evans ducks under and works into a takedown. Evans pushes Jackson up against the fence and starts landing one right hand after another. Jackson able to work slowly back to his feet but Evans hangs on to him and throws him back down. Again, Jackson works first to his knees and then back towards his feet. Only 20 seconds left to go though and he can do nothing but cover up. He throws one final right hand as the horn sounds but that’s it. Evans wins unanimous decision by scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Michael Bisping (20-3) vs. Dan Miller (11-4)
Round One: Bisping pushes his forehead up against Miller’s before the fight so hard an official has to come out and back him off. Crowd chanting ‘U.S.A.’ as fight begins. Less than 30 seconds in, Miller lands an accidental groin shot but Bisping only needs a second to recover. Bisping lands the first big shot of the fight with a one-two combination. Miller answers with a counter uppercut. Bisping swings hard on a right hook and Miller counters again. Miller tries to come forward but a jab from Bisping punches him back. Good leg kick lands for Miller. Miller lands a big overhand right but Bisping takes it well. The two have another exchange with Bisping landing the better of it. Nice straight right lands for Bisping. One minute to go and no sign of Miller trying to take the fight to the ground yet. Close first round ends.
Round Two: Miller continues to let his hands go while mixing in an occasional leg kick. Bisping lands a hard straight right as Miller kicks, followed by a left hook. Miller ducks under a right hook and makes his first attempt at taking Bisping down but its unsuccessful. Bisping throws a hard head kick that gets a response from the crowd. Bisping sets up the straight right with the jab and he’s starting to have his way here on the feet. Bisping catches a leg kick and follows it with a right hook and Miller’s face is bloodied. Miller lands a straight right just before the final horn in a round that was all Bisping.
Round Three: Miller clips Bisping with an overhand right to the start the round and Bisping is retreating. Miller starts to go after him but eases off as Bisping hits him back with a pair of jabs. Still no serious takedown attempt from Miller. Miller lands a good hook to Bisping’s body with three minutes to go. Finally Miller shoots in on a takedown as Bisping throws and gets the fight to the ground. Bisping backs up to the cage and on his feet quickly though. Miller shoots a single leg with a minute left in the fight but Bisping defends it well. Miller lets his hands go at the 20-second mark, landing some good shots but it’s not enough as Bisping walks away with the unanimous decision.
Todd Duffee (6-1) vs. Mike Russow (13-1)
Round One: Duffee letting his lands loose immediately, throwing jabs and uppercuts. Russow comes forward with a jab but Duffee catches him with an uppercut that drops him 40 seconds into the fight. Russow survives but only to get hit by two more straight punches. Russow looks for a desperate single leg takedown. Duffee throws him off. Russow blocks away two jabs but Duffee connects on a third punch, a right hook. Uppercut lands for Duffee.
Round Two: Rusow swings for the fences with a big overhand right that Duffee ducks under. Russow looks for a takedown but it’s not happening. Russow lands his first shot of the night with a right cross but Duffee responds with two uppercuts of his own. Action slows down here as Russow has become very defensive and Duffee trying to pick his shots. Slower second round comes to an end.
Round Three: Duffee comes out with a jab and then back-to-back uppercuts that both miss. Russow feints high and goes for a takedown that’s easily defended. Duffee lands a left hook set up by a feint and then swings with two haymakers that both miss. Russow throws a perfect right hook that puts Duffee out on the spot. Out of nowhere, the right hook hit just right on the temple and Duffee went straight to the mat. Russow raises his arms and it gives a look like even he can’t believe what just happened. End comes at 2:35, Russow winner by knockout.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-3) vs. Jason Brilz (18-3-1)
Round One: Fighters feeling each other out here to start the first round. Nogueira comes forward and throws a hard knee while Brilz’s head is down. Looked and sounded awful but Brilz doesn’t appear too damaged. Nogueira throws a leg kick, Brilz catches it and ends up taking him down. Brilz nearly works into the mount but Nogueira is able to throw him over his head. Brilz reacts quickly and keeps Nogueira on his back. Nogueira able to get to his feet though and the two work back towards the middle of the octagon for another long feeling out period that lasts the rest of the round.
Round Two: More feeling out to start the second round before Brilz throws a leg kick and then shoots in for a takedown. Nogueira times it and looks for the guillotine. Brilz breaks it before transitioning into his own when Nogueira looks to reverse the position. Brilz has it pretty tight. Nogueira trying to roll out of it and he finally breaks free. Brilz’s entire corner was ready to storm the cage but Nogueira survives, although he’s still on his back in the center of the octagon. After another failed submission attempt by Brilz, the two fighters are back to their feet with two minutes to go. Brilz ducks under a left hook by Nogueira and connects with a vicious counter right. Nogueira weathers it well though and continues coming forward. Nogueira looks for a knee that grazes Brilz under the chin but he takes it and responds with a combination of punches. Brilz all smiles as the round ends.
Round Three: Brilz looks for an early single leg takedown. Nogueira again looks for the guillotine but this one isn’t tight and he ends up on his back again. Nogueira rolls over though and reverses the position and looks to posture up for some shots. Brilz works his way to the cage and back to his feet. He stumbles around a bit and then shoots again on the single leg. It results in him clutching at Nogueira’s left foot for awhile before Nogueira breaks away from him and lets him to his feet. Brilz doing everything he can to get the fight back to the ground with 2:30 to go. Nogueira lands a left knee and Brilz looks worn out. Again he looks to wrestle Nogueira to the ground but Nogueira reverses the position. Nogueira briefly catches him in a crucifix but he can’t take advantage of it like he wants and Brilz rolls out. Thirty seconds to go, Nogueira outwrestling Brilz but can’t find a way to finish the fight. Nogueira, however ends up taking it by a split decision, and the packed crowd at the Grand Garden Arena quickly let their collective displeasure be known.
Diego Sanchez (23-4) vs. John Hathaway (14-0)
Round One: Sanchez runs out to his place in the middle of the octagon. He comes forward quickly with a few straight punches that Hathaway avoids and Sanchez carries the momentum forward and puts his opponent against the cage. Sanchez looking for the single leg but with Hathaway has his back to the cage and he’s defending it well. Finally Sanchez gives up the leg and they move towards the middle again. Hathaway lands a hard straight right. Sanchez looks for the takedown and Hathaway times a knee perfectly. Sanchez is stunned on the ground but he gets Hathaway into his guard and manages to survive for now. He’s still in a bad spot though, as Hathaway postures up and throws down one elbow after another. Two more good elbows from Hathaway followed by two punches but Sanchez able to pull him in close again. Sanchez throws an upkick that is dangerously close to being illegal as Hathaway’s knees were on the mat. A round dominated by Hathaway finally comes to an end.
Round Two: Hathaway comes out aggressively to start second round. Leading with the jab and then throwing a leg kick. Nice combination lands for Hathaway. Sanchez lands a good overhand right as Hathaway comes forward with a kick. Good straight left lands for Sanchez that buckles Hathaway’s legs for a moment. Hathaway throws a kick and Sanchez catches it and works it into a takedown. Hathaway lands a clean straight right as Sanchez drops his hands. Hathaway lands another right cross under the chin of Sanchez. Sanchez tries to come forward at the end of the round to steal it but Hathaway uses his jab and counters effectively.
Round Three: Sanchez very conservative to start final round. He comes forward at the 3:30 mark but Hathaway is proving to be the more tactical striker tonight. He’s moving his head to avoid those shots and outpointing Sanchez everywhere. Sanchez goes for a takedown and Hathaway defends it easily and lands a knee under Sanchez’s chin after the sprawl. Sanchez shoots again but there’s nothing behind it. Sanchez still trying to create offense but he’s getting beat to every punch. At the 10-second mark, Sanchez throws a punch so hard he goes flying into the cage on the follow-through. Nothing happening for Sanchez tonight, Hathaway takes it by unanimous decision on scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.
Amir Sadollah (4-2) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (13-0-1)
Round One: Fighters trade leg kicks in early moments of the fight. Sadollah looks for a straight punch and Hyun Kim ducks under and lands a takedown attempt. Hyun Kim looking to pass guard but good defense from Sadollah. Good elbow lands for Hyun Kim after long stretch of inactivity. Sadollah tries to roll Hyun Kim over so he can get to his feet but Hyun Kim wrestles him back to the mat with 1:30 to go. Hyun Kim takes Sadollah’s back with 30 seconds to go but Sadollah survives the bad position and makes it to second round.
Round Two: Sadollah lands a few good kicks before Hyun Kim ducks under a punch and lands a takedown nearly identical to the one he used in the first round. Hyun Kim works into side control, looks to work into the crucifix but Sadollah escapes and gets back to his feet. Hyun Kim keeps clinched up with Sadollah against the fence, lands a few good knees before landing a trip and taking him down again. Hyun Kim has now got Sadollah’s left arm pulled back over his own neck, leaving him vulnerable to punches from the top. Hyun Kim finishes round in full mount.
Round Three: Hyun Kim looks for the single leg takedown early and puts Sadollah on the floor again. Sadollah defending well from the bottom but this isn’t where he wants to be down two rounds to none. Sadollah gets to his feet with 90 seconds left and the crowd starts begging for a big hit. Hyun Kim goes for a takedown but Sadollah finally defends one and continues looking for a big shot. He throws a flying knee but it doesn’t hit its mark and leads to an easy Hyun Kim takedown. Both fighters looking tired as they get back to their feet for final 30 seconds. Sadollah slips under a nice right hook and Hyun Kim’s legs are wobbling. He manages to hang on and gets the unanimous decision win.
Efrain Escudero (14-1) vs. Dan Lauzon (12-4)
Round One: Lauzon comes out with a big straight left that Escudero ducks under and counters. Again, Lauzon rips off a jab and straight punch that Escudero counters effectively. Lauzon misses again and Escudero lands a knee that puts him off-balance. More knees from Escudero as Lauzon’s trapped up against the fence. Escudero smiling now at Lauzon after a break from the clinch. Lauzon misses on a superman punch and nearly gets caught with a hard counter uppercut. Crowd getting restless now as both fighters a little hesitant to engage. Escudero controls pace in first round but leaves with a cut over his left eye.
Round Two: Good leg kick from Escudero starts off second round. Escudero throws a series of right hands that has Lauzon backing up and the crowd going wild. Lauzon puts his back to the fence and covers up his head while Escuero swings for the fences. Escudero not landing many of them flush though and he decides to back off and let Lauzon off the fence. Escudero just stalking Lauzon around the fence now. Lauzon’s corner is yelling at him to stay away from the cage. Lauzon lands a left hook and Escudero acknowledges it by smiling and nodding his head. A right hook from Escudero drops Lauzon but he doesn’t follow him to the ground. Lauzon gets back to his feet but he doesn’t look like a guy who wants to fight anymore.
Round Three: Escudero trying to pump up the crowd before the start of the final round. Lauzon springs forward with a right hook but Escudero sees it coming and counters. Escudero throws a combination of right hooks again but this time Lauzon makes him miss and counters with a hook of his own. Again, Escudero smiles and nods his head as if he’s enjoying it when Lauzon is able to connect. Escudero looking for the knees of the Muay Thai clinch. He throws them so hard his entire body is lifting off the ground. None of them land clean and there’s two minutes to go. Escudero dancing around in front of Lauzon and crowd begins to boo again. Escudero motions for Lauzon to come forward at the 30-second mark. With just 15 seconds left Escudero lands a hard kick to Lauzon’s groin that brings him to his knees. Referee Josh Rosenthal ends up taking a point away from Escudero for the blow. Fight resumes and the two fighters go 100 percent the rest of the way, with Lauzon screaming at the top of his lungs the entire time. All three judges score the fight 29-27 for Escudero.
Melvin Guillard (43-9-3) vs. Waylon Lowe (8-3)
Round One: Fighters touch gloves to begin the fight. Lowe goes for a takedown early and Guillard makes him pay with a right hook as he backs up and stays on his feet. Lowe goes for the single leg takedown again. He lifts Guillard up but Guillard is able to land back on his feet. Lowe works the trip and takes Guillard down but Guillard gets back up immediately. Lowe still looking for the single leg but Guillard’s defense is good. He’s lands one knee and then another as Lowe still refuses to give up his grip on his left leg. Lowe goes for the takedown, Guillard sprawls and throws a hard knee right into the stomach of Lowe. Lowe groans loudly in pain from the shot. He covers up and he’s done. Referee Yves Lavigne steps in quickly and the fight is over. Guillard wins by TKO 3:28 of first round.
Luiz Cane (11-3-1) vs. Cyrille Diabate (17-6-3)
Round One: Diabate gets things going with a leg kick but Cane comes back strong throwing a combination with his hands and backing Diabate up to the cage. Diabate tries to answer with some striking of his own but Cane quickly drops him with a left hand. Diabate survives though and works back to his feet and two work into a clinch against the fence. Diabate lands a nice knee off the break and then a straight left hand that snaps Cane’s head back. Another left and then a right and Cane’s legs wobble. He goes down, Diabate follows up with a strong left and referee Herb Dean has to step in and stop the fight. Diabate wins by TKO in the first round.
Jesse Forbes (13-6) vs. Ryan Jensen (16-5)
Round One: Jensen comes in with a jab and Forbes catches him with a hard straight hand that drops him less than 30 seconds into the fight. Jensen tries to get to his feet and Forbes rushes him and takes him down. Forbes ends up on Jensen’s back and looks for the rear naked. Jensen slips out, reverses the position and transitions beautifully into a guillotine attempt. It looks tight as he throws his legs up over Forbes’s waist and Forbes is forced to tap. The end comes quickly, Jensen by submission at 1:06 of first round.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].