Since his time as a contestant on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, Rashad Evans has ascended to the light heavyweight throne (though he was unseated by Lyoto Machida at UFC 98 in 2009) defeated some of the most prominent names in MMA along the way.
Though he was undefeated at the time, Rashad Evans didn’t truly hit his stride in the Octagon until he met former champion and MMA icon Chuck Liddell at UFC 88, an event prophetically titled “Breakthrough.”
Evans faced “The Iceman’s” feared striking offense and returned fire with his own improved hands, eventually cracking his mohawked opponent with a powerful right hook that immediately sent him crashing to the canvas, starting a run of losses that would lead to the end of Liddell’s storied career.
Evans recently recounted the fight which would catapult him into stardom and into his first UFC title fight.
“There was no pressure to take him down,” says Evans. “I was confident enough in my standup that we could go blow for blow and I was not gonna be afraid to take a hit from him and just do it. You hear people talk about his punching power, and you try not to let it really resonate in your mind because the last thing you want to be doing is going out there afraid of your opponent’s punch. Then you’ll be fighting a scared fight.”
On the shot that dropped the legend and the follow up finishing sequence, Evans relives in detail how the time-warping effects of adrenaline shaped the experience.
“My intention when I threw the punch was to throw it as fast as I can,” he said. “And I threw it, it went through, and I was gonna follow up with the left hook, but he was already going down. And after the left hook went by, I was like, ‘Oh no, he fell down. I’ve gotta hurry up and finish him.’ But it seemed like it took forever for me to come out of that left hook to turn around and get on him. It was so quiet in there, I could hear a pin drop. The fight was over, Herb Dean had stopped it, and I was in shock because everybody was so quiet.”