The heavyweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter 2 competition, Rashad Evans, entered the UFC on a 5-0 winning streak with a 60% finish rate. After defeating Brad Imes via split decision at the Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale, Evans dropped back down to the 205lbs division. At light-heavyweight, Evans continued his winning ways with a majority decision over Ultimate Fighter Season 1 runner-up Stephan Bonnar. He topped his KO of Jason Lambert at UFC 63 with a Knockout of the Night headkick KO of Sean Salmon at UFC Fight Night 8 – his first main event.
Evans then took on former light-heavyweight champ Tito Ortiz. They fought to a draw on the main card at UFC 73: Stacked. Ortiz would have won on the judges’ cards 29-28, but was penalized a point for grabbing the fence to stop an Evans takedown. Evans next fight would pit him against the also undefeated winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 3, Michael “The Count” Bisping. Evans won the bout on two of the three judges’ cards and handed Bisping his first mixed martial arts loss. Evans holds the distinction of being the first man to defeat Bisping as well as the last man to fight him at light-heavyweight.
Evans continued his run towards UFC gold with a second-round knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88. Evans took home Knockout of the Night honors for that performance as well as later winning Knockout of the Year for 2008. In December of 2008, Evans battled The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 winner Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 for the light-heavyweight championship. Evans defeated Griffin via TKO and took home both the championship belt and a bonus check for Fight of the Night.
Evans’ first title defense would also be his last. Evans was overconfident in his chin late in the second round and took some unnecessary shots from Lyoto Machida leading to the knockout. Evans rebounded from the loss and started his second title run with unanimous decision wins over Thiago Silva and “Rampage” Jackson. A knee injury cost him his title shot against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128. Then a series of injuries on the part of both Evans and the new champion/former training partner Jon Jones delayed his title hopes again and again. In August of 2011, Evans faced Ortiz in a rematch four years after their initial draw. This time around, Evans TKO’ed Ortiz in the second round with a vicious knee to the chest and follow-up ground and pound. The win put him into a title eliminator position with Phil Davis.
After grinding out a decision win over Davis, Evans finally faced Jones at UFC 145. He lost via unanimous decision, and while he did not reclaim his title he did become the only man to ever go five rounds with Jones. Evans followed up his loss to Jones with another decision loss to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
The 33-year old Evans will meet the 42-year old Dan Henderson in the center of the Octagon at UFC 161 on June 15 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Both men are coming off a loss and looking to get back into the win column and title contention. The fight was initially booked as the co-main event of the evening, but was promoted to headliner status after a training injury sidelined interim bantamweight champ, Renan Barao.