Two long-time light heavyweight veterans clashed for the first time last night (Feb. 2, 2013) as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira took on former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans in the co-main event of UFC 156 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Evans had a ton on the line, potentially an opportunity to drop down to 185 pounds and challenge Anderson Silva for the middleweight title, but he had to get through Nogueira first.
But that wasn't nearly as easy as the over 5-1 odds for Evans suggested.
In all honesty, this fight was atrocious and the less said about it the better. Regardless.....
Early on, Evans pressed the action, flashing a jab in Nogueira's face while looking for the killshot. He wasn't able to score the huge knockout blow, or even hurt Nogueira, but he was able to land enough to keep "Little Nog" on his heels in the opening round, including scoring a brief takedown.
By the second round, Nogueira had caught on to Evans' game. Since "Suga" wanted to simply keep it standing, Nogueira realized he could just go to work with his boxing, keeping his distance and throwing just enough jabs and straight left hands to outpoint the former champ. Evans refused to aggressively pursue the takedown like Nogueira's previous opponents who had defeated him and he made it easy.
With the fight in the balance, Evans just continued to stay overly patient, playing patty cake with Nogueira via his lead left hand popping out over and over. The killshot he'd been looking for never came and by the time the fight was over, Nogueira had done enough in rounds two and three to win a unanimous decision 29-28 across the boards.
For Rashad Evans, he simply never turned it up. He fought like he was stuck in quicksand with no sense of urgency whatsoever. Granted, this isn't the first time he's ever done that. Evans has a penchant for giving away rounds while looking for the big knockout. The same thing happened in his fights against Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin in prior fights where he eventually scored the big KO, but it didn't come this time. Why didn't he use his wrestling? Evans has more takedowns than any light heavyweight in UFC history, and Nogueira's two losses in the UFC were when wrestlers Ryan Bader and Phil Davis were able to put him on the canvas. Instead, Evans just haphazardly stayed standing and halfheartedly shot in for telegraphed takedowns from a distance.
Who knows what's in store for Evans next. The only thing for certain is it won't be Anderson Silva. Potential bouts against the upcoming Gegard Mousasi vs. Alexander Gustafsson loser, the Dan Henderson vs Lyota Machida loser or perhaps Ryan Bader would all make sense.