After 14 long and arduous months, the wait was finally over for Rashad Evans.
And no one is talking about ring rust anymore.
Evans showed up last night (August 6, 2011) for the UFC 133 main event against Tito Ortiz in perhaps the best physical condition of his life. It appears the hard work put in at Imperial Athletics has truly paid off.
While Tito was a feel-good story, coming in on short notice after earning a victory for the first time in five years, "Suga" made him feel pretty bad with superior striking, wrestling and ground and pound.
The fight will be broken down and you'll find out where each participant is headed after the jump.
At first, it looked like the layoff may have affected Evans. He was off to his typical slow start and Ortiz was not only outstriking him early but actually shot in and had him on the defensive against the fence.
After about three minutes, he finally fought back with a violent flurry of strikes along the fence and, in a moment that hearkened back to the second round of Edgar vs. Maynard 2, the Ultimate Fighter season two winner lifted Ortiz over his head and slammed him to the canvas, finishing the round with over a minute of aggressive ground and pound.
This wasn't the same Rashad Evans that didn't display much top control against Thiago Silva and played it safe in his full guard. This time, Evans was extremely aggressive with punches on the ground and was constantly looking to pass.
In the second round, Ortiz's only offense was a pair of submissions, a guillotine without full guard that he couldn't fully lock in and a desperation leg lock after taking a serious beating on the ground.
Despite being the larger man, "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy's" primary tactic of defense on the ground was to cover up and absorb punishment. That's how dominant Rashad was last night.
The finish to the fight was as beautiful as it was brutal, with Ortiz crouching against the fence covering up his head, a perfectly placed knee to the chest completely took the fight out of him and forced the longest reigning light heavyweight champion to go completely fetal until the fight was stopped.
So what happens next with Tito Ortiz?
He put up a valiant effort but was still completely overwhelmed. He's definitely not getting cut as Evans is one of the best fighters in the promotion and he stepped up in a big way on short notice. If Ortiz needs to work on anything, it's his ability to get up once he's been put on his back. He's a very big and strong man and he should be capable of more than simply covering up when someone is on top of him.
Expect to see Tito against the upcoming loser of the Forrest Griffin vs. Mauricio Rua fight at UFC 134. Both fights would be compelling as Ortiz has split a pair of bouts with Griffin and a match with "Shogun" would certainly be compelling. Other options are either Rich Franklin or Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, depending on if those two actually fight each other or not.
For Rashad Evans, he's got to be happy with his performance. The former champ looked great while striking and his top control and ground and pound were the best they've ever been. That knee to the body was one of the smoothest and most perfectly timed strikes of his career. The only thing he needs to focus on is getting off to a better start. If he starts slow against either Jon Jones or Quinton Jackson, he could get caught.
His victory over Ortiz guaranteed a title shot against the Jones - "Rampage" winner, something that's been a long time coming. It's a win-win situation for the UFC as Evans has a beef with both men and whoever wins will guarantee a big money fight for the promotion.
So Maniacs, how impressed were you with Rashad Evans performance last night? Do you think he has a chance against the Jones - Jackson winner?