It says something about a fighter when they take on the “Sugar” nickname. When you compare yourself to the Robinsons and Leonards and even the Mosleys, you best have some talented hands.
Rashad “Sugar” Evans does indeed have some useful fists, we saw on Saturday at UFC 92, and he put them to good use in the main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Evans, who is in the top ten in all MMA in the boxing department, launched a vicious load of rights and lefts at Forrest Griffin, and emerged victorious with a third round KO ground ‘n pound climax in a battle of The Ultimate Fighter winners.
The end came at 2:46 of the third, and with the win, Evans owns the UFC light heavyweight belt, which Griffin snagged from Rampage Jackson at UFC 86. I'm guessing he can keep the nickname for awhile, as his jab is nothing to sneeze at, and his right hands get where they need to go with speed and pop.
Griffin (16-4 entering; age 29; Las Vegas resident) weighed 205, while 17-0-1 Evans (age 29; New Mexico resident) weighed 203 for the bout. Steve Mazzagatti refereed the contest. Griffin was the champion among light heavys on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, while Griffin won the heavyweight draw in the second season, FYI.
In the first, the two men sized each other up for a long spell. Griffin started working his leg kicks, but Evans wound up with a hellacious one of his own, just to send a message, “Hey, I got one of those too.” Evans switched to lefty to give his front leg a rest three quarters of the way through the round. Both men were patient technicians.
In the second, Griffin sensed an advantage and pressed, and got in Evans’ grill. Rashad grinned and waved him on. Two minutes in, Evans again went lefty. He didn’t care for the outside leg kicks, or the inside variety. Griffin’s reach helped him keep Evans at bay, and posing more than punching. Evans flinched at even the thought of leg kicks, and Griffin’s game plan was unfolding to perfection.
In the third, Evans caught Griffin with a flurry and hopped on him, and rained down hammerfists. Griffin dodged blows, and got his wits about him, but it was touch and go for a few seconds. Griffin fended Evans off, and looked to gain wrist control, and maybe go for an armbar. But Evans kept plugging away, waiting, and he landed five crunching rights that basically discombobulated Griffin. The ref gave Griffin some time to answer, but Evans switched to his left, as he stood over Griffin, on his back, covering his face, to no avail. The ref stopped it as Griffin was unable to fire back, or cover up.
Antonio “Minotauro” Noguiera took on Frank Mir in a heavyweight scrap. The two men acted as coaches on the latest installment of The Ultimate Fighter. Nog came in with the interim heavyweight belt. Both men are BJJ black belts.
Mir (12-3) dictated the pace with his boxing in the first. The lefty used a basic one-two to run away with the opening round, and he knocked Nog to the mat twice. Would Mir flame out, we wondered? In the second, Mir sent Nog (31-5) to the mat for the third and final time, with two lefts. Down went Nog, and Mir hopped on to flurry to the finish, with nine unanswered hammers. The ref stepped in to stop it, at 1:54, and Mir went to Brock Lesnar, in the front row watching, and talked a little trash. This was the first time, by the way, that Nog had been stopped as a pro. After the cerebral Mir gained a ton of new fans with his raw talk. “I faced my mythological monster. I’ve never been more afraid in my life as I was when I walked in the ring tonight,” he said.
Some sweet science fans don’t even want any MMA coverage on TSS, and I concede their point. But I think MMA has a place on TSS, if only to illustrate the stylistic differences in the presentation of the respective products. Illustration A: the second fight on the PPV pitted Rampage Jackson against Wanderlei Silva. This could’ve headlined a PPV, or at least, served as a rock-solid co-feature, but I repeat, it was the second bout of the night on UFC 92. Silva held a 2-0 edge against Rampage, so of course an element of drama was lost coming in to this third tussle. But MMA fight fans were eager to see how Jackson fared, considering that we’ve been following his exploits and travails outside the cage, after he was busted for hit and run on July 18. In the first, Silva aimed leg kicks at Rampage’s lead leg. But Jackson shrugged that off, and dropped a bomb of a left hand at 3:21 of the first which dropped Silva in a flash. The finishing flourish was a left hook counter, tight and strong, and no followup was even needed. After, Rampage (28-7) said that moving to England to train was helpful in keeping his mind on fighting, and not his legal woes. This win was most meaningful for Jackson, considering he lost in his last outing, in July, to Forrest Griffin, and dropped his light heavyweight crown. For Silva, this is his third KO loss in two years, and he will have to figure out if his chin-wiring is permanently compromised. He may simply be an “old” 32.
Brock Lesnar got some facetime, chatting with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg before the Noguiera-Mir scrap. Gotta like Lesnar for his honesty. He admitted he wanted Mir to prevail, so he could avenge his loss to Mir.