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Evans has arrived!
UFC 92 post-fight report

Report by Anthony Springer Jr
Photos by Chris Cozzone

To say that Rashad Evans was never given a chance is an understatement.

He was an underdog on season two of The Ultimate Fighter. He won that season’s heavyweight competition.

He was heavily picked to be soundly defeated by former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell. He KO’d “The Iceman” with a highlight worthy overhand right.

And last night, he was also the underdog going into the battle of Ultimate Fighter winners with Forrest Griffin.

Evans, like “Rampage” and Frank Mir before him, removed all doubt about his abilities, scoring a third round TKO win over Griffin. Part of the criticism levied against Evans is that he’s a slow starter. He virtually gave Griffin the first two rounds, but came alive after being hit with a Superman punch at the end of the second. The punch woke Evans up, frustrated him, and embarrassed him all at the same time.

“He caught me with a Superman punch, of all punches at the end of the second round,” Evans said. “I was kinda pissed off, everybody in my camp shoots the Superman punch and I thought ‘I’ll never get hit with this in a fight.’ I’m kinda fuckin’ embarrassed.”

Evans was admittedly puzzled when the fight came to a halt, but kept punching until the referee halted the match.

“I was on [Griffin] and his guard was loose. He was letting me hit him and I was thinking, ‘He’s not going to let me hit him.’ He let me get one more in and I thought he might be hurt. He was smiling the whole time, and I wasn’t sure if he was hurt or pretending. I’ll just keep hitting him in the smiling face, and he stopped smiling. Forrest was tough.”

“Sugar” Rashad Evans has officially arrived, and if anyone has questions about Evans’ abilities, Frank Mir asked the perfect rhetorical question to all doubters.

“How many undefeated champions have we had?” Mir said of the 18-0-1 Evans.

 “Rampage” Silences Critics; Puts Cap on Silva Rivalry

If there was ever any doubt that fighting is 90 percent mental, and a mere ten percent of performance and execution, UFC 92 confirmed that fact.

The world’s biggest mixed martial arts promotion ended an already memorable 2008 with a bang that saw all three of the fighters considered underdogs walk away with impressive victories.

For Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, his knockout victory over living legend Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva put an end to the men’s bitter rival in devastating fashion. Jackson caught Silva with a vicious left hook that instantly put the 32-year-old former Pride champion to bed while simultaneously avenging two previous losses in the now defunct promotion.

Aside from the physical power it took to put Silva on his back, “Rampage” endured a mental test to get to that point. After dropping a contest to former champion Forrest Griffin in July, Jackson was arrested for reckless driving just days after the match. A much publicized split with former trainer Juanito Ibarra also followed.

Many fans and fighters alike questioned whether or not Jackson deserved to be fighting at all, given all that he’d gone through.

He answered the questions and silenced the critics.

“Who cares what people say?” Jackson said during the post fight press conference. “They don’t know. I want to prove everybody wrong. I heard some fighters talking smack, saying ‘Wanderlei is in Rampage’s head.’ They don’t know what type of person I am. I’m from the streets. [Wanderlei] didn’t kill me. I’m still here.  I’m ready to fight a couple more times.”

For a man on a quest to regain the light heavyweight title, the battle was won during a difficult training camp across the pond at Wolfslair.

“I knew I was going to win.”

While “Rampage” is eyeing a run at the title, he’s not interested in new champion Rashad Evans—at least not right now.

“To be quite honest, I’d rather go and fight Forrest,” he said. “That’s the fight that haunts me when I go to sleep.” That’s the fight. I want the belt, but I want to get Forrest first, if I could.”

Mir Completes Resurrection with TKO Win

Frank Mir came into the Octagon determined, but unsure of himself. After recovering from a motorcycle accident that almost took away his ability to fight, the current UFC Interim heavyweight champion was on the verge of killing himself via alcohol and pain pills.

With the help of his wife, Mir got his personal and professional life back together with a string of impressive wins over Antoni Hardonk and Brock Lesnar. Standing in his way at UFC 92 was a man who had never been finished and a man that Mir idolized in Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira.

With crisp striking and improved conditioning, Mir dominated his hero en route to a third round TKO victory. The win was a storybook ending to a fighter on the brink of total defeat. Mir’s family joined him at the press conference, and he was sure to let everyone in attendance know who really deserved the credit for the resurrection.

“I wish I could say I could make a real heroic statement and say I never gave up,” he said with an emotional tone.  “I’m not that guy. The only reason I’m where I am now is because of my wife, my family, and my children. They’re the ones that kept me going.”

In defeating an MMA legend, Mir exceeded the expectations of the sports world, and the expectations he set for himself. “I visualized winning the fight, but never by stoppage,” he said. “I imagined that I’d get him in a submission and break something and the fight would keep going. I imagined that I’d knock him down, but he would keep getting up. I was able to jump on him that last time. He was dazed. Those other shots were knockdown shots, his composure regained before his butt hit the mat. People probably don’t want to hear this, but I just wanted to win more rounds than he won.”

 After the TKO, Mir ran over to face current heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar and delivered a preemptive strike for their future rematch.

“Be careful what you wish for.”

 


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