For the majority of his long awaited grudge match with Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Rashad Evans looked the better fighter, with a definitive speed advantage, better wrestling and a superior gameplan.
He now holds just one defeat in 17 professional fights, and certainly deserves an opportunity to go on to fight for the light-heavyweight title against Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua later this year.
Despite that, In the third round Evans was floored by a punch from Rampage, and the fight was perilously close to being stopped as he tried to regain his senses under a prolonged ground and pound assault from his sworn enemy.
He survived, but it will surely be a concern for Evans that his ability to take a punch is now under question for the third fight in a row as he now looks ahead to a fight with another heavy handed striker in Shogun.
The first such instance was in his first title defense against Lyoto Machida in which he was knocked down several times before finally being brutally knocked out.
That fight served as a wake-up call to Evans and he reverted back to his wrestling base for his next bout with Thiago Silva. That appeared to be working well as he controlled much of the bout but, in a remarkably similar scenario to last night’s fight with Rampage, he then found himself rocked in the third and was lucky to make it through until the final bell.
His will to win and ability to battle through adversity cannot be questioned, but there are now clear warning signs over the quality of Evans chin.
Therefore I believe that, like his friend and team-mate Georges St.Pierre we will continue to see less and less of the 30 year-old former champion’s stand-up game, and more of his wrestling attributes in his future fights.