LAS VEGAS -- Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans fought through a furious third-round comeback attempt from Thiago Silva and outpointed the Brazilian in the UFC 108 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Evans shot out to an early lead, banking the first two rounds on the strength of powerful double-leg takedowns he set up with punches.
“It was a strategy I got away from for a long time because I’ve been having success doing other things, but I got back to it,” Evans said. “It was difficult, but I stuck with the game plan.”
Evans repeatedly hacked his way into the pocket before changing levels and snatching Silva’s legs. He picked him up and slammed him to the canvas on a number of occasions and looked to suck the life out of the American Top Team-based standout, who could not get anything going in the first 10 minutes.
That all changed in round three.
Silva picked himself up off the mat after another takedown and raised his arms to incite the crowd. He then stuck his chin out, inviting Evans into a firefight. When his antics failed, Silva began mocking Evans’ emphatic head movement.
The ploy nearly worked. Silva caught the favorite with a right hand that sent him stumbling backward into the cage.
“I didn’t realize how hard it was until I tried to take a step back, and then I was like, ‘Where’s my legs at?’” Evans said. “It was a good shot. I got lazy a little bit in the third, and it cost me.”
Silva desperately chased him down, but he could not find the mark with a flurry of punches he directed at Evans. With less than two minutes left, the former champion was holding on for dear life, but it became apparent that Silva had punched himself out. The once-beaten Brazilian turned and walked back to the center of the cage, with Evans still reeling and trying to clinch and regain his composure.
As the clock ticked down, Silva could not muster any more significant offense, and Evans clutched and grabbed his way to the end of the fight.
Scores were 29-28 across the board for Evans. The win sets him up for a highly anticipated match against his archrival, Quinton Jackson. UFC President Dana White has indicated that bout could take place as soon as March.
“I hear that there’s an actor that came back to the fighting game, the UFC, and Rampage, I know you’re watching,” Evans said. “Come back, and let’s get it on.”