Height 5 ft 11 in
Weight 205 lb
Born September 25, 1979
Fighting out of: Lansing, Michigan
Team/Association Jackson's Submission Fighting
Primary fighting style Kickboxing, Wrestling
By knockout 5
By submission 2
By Decision 7
No contests 0
In 2004, under the tutelage of veteran wrestler and MMA fighter Dan Severn, Evans competed in five professional mixed martial arts fights, winning all five. This led to his selection as one of the nine heavyweights to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 2, a reality TV series on Spike. The season began airing on August 22, 2005, culminating in a live finale between the final two fighters of each weight division, held in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 5, 2005.
The Ultimate Fighter
At 5 feet 11 inches and 225 pounds, Evans was the shortest and the second-lightest of the nine heavyweight competitors. He was considered the underdog in each of his fights, but made it to the finals by defeating Tom Murphy, Mike Whitehead, and Keith Jardine. During his tenure on the show, Evans was criticized by opposing coach Matt Hughes for his showboating during fights, but the two eventually settled their differences, and Hughes even cornered Evans for his semifinal bout. In the finale, Evans defeated 6 ft 7 in Brad Imes by split decision, thus winning a three-year, six-figure contract with the UFC and a brand new car. After The Ultimate Fighter, Evans joined Greg Jackson's Submission Fighting camp along with fellow competitor Keith Jardine, who would eventually become his training partner and good friend.
After the show
Evans dropped down to light heavyweight after the show, deciding he would have a better chance of success in a lower weight class. His first fight under the contract took place on April 6, 2006 against Sam Hoger, who had been a semi-finalist on The Ultimate Fighter 1. Evans defeated Hoger via split decision despite nearly falling victim to a kimura submission at the end of the second round.
Evans followed with a victory by majority decision over The Ultimate Fighter 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar on June 28, 2006. Evans maintained control throughout the fight with repeated take downs, including a number of slams in the center of the cage and went on to secure the victory. Three months later, Evans faced Jason Lambert at UFC 63. Lambert, riding an eight-fight win streak, was seen as Evans's first real test at 205 pounds. Evans controlled the fight from early on, and knocked Lambert out with punches from the mount in the second round. It was his first stoppage victory in over two years.
Evans next headlined UFC Fight Night: Evans vs Salmon against UFC newcomer Sean Salmon, a highly decorated collegiate wrestler who held a 9-1 professional record. Though Salmon had won the first round by scoring two takedowns, Evans came back with a head kick knockout early in the second round. Salmon remained motionless for several minutes after the fight and was eventually carried out on a stretcher to a local hospital. The kick came to the surprise of many fans who had previously considered Evans a one-dimensional wrestler.
At UFC 73, Evans squared off against former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz. The two competitors fought to a draw as all three judges scored the bout 28-28. Ortiz had won two out of three rounds on all scorecards, but was deducted a point for holding the cage fence to defend against a takedown by Evans. Immediately after the fight, Ortiz asked for a rematch. At a press conference following UFC 73, UFC President Dana White promised a rematch, but it never materialized. Instead, Evans made his debut as a headliner on a pay-per-view event at UFC 78 against fellow undefeated fighter and The Ultimate Fighter 3 winner Michael Bisping. After three close rounds, Evans came out on top on two of the judges's scorecards, winning by split decision. This fight marked Bisping's first loss and his final bout in the light heavyweight division.
Fight with Liddell
Evans made his biggest appearance to date against former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell at UFC 88. Evans had previously been scheduled to face Liddell at UFC 85 as a replacement for the injured Mauricio Rua. When Liddell pulled out of the event due to an injured hamstring, Evans was matched with James Irvin. When Irvin pulled out after breaking his foot, the fight was removed from the card altogether. Though an underdog with a perceived deficit in the stand-up against a noted knockout artist, Evans traded punches with the former champion throughout the first round before finding his range. At 1:51 of the second round, Evans flashed a jab and then landed an overhand right just as Liddell was throwing an uppercut. The punch caught Liddell flush on the chin and knocked him out cold. Evans earned Knockout of the Night and a bonus of $60,000. After the fight, UFC President Dana White confirmed in the post-event press conference that Evans's next fight would be a title shot against newly crowned light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 92.
Light heavyweight champion
On December 27, 2008 at UFC 92, Evans faced champion Forrest Griffin for the UFC light heavyweight belt. Griffin controlled most of the first two rounds with effective striking and low kicks. In the third round, however, Evans caught a low kick and countered with a straight right hand that dropped Griffin. Evans followed Griffin to the ground and eventually managed to finish the stunned champion with ground and pound. With the victory, Evans became the new UFC light heavyweight champion.
Evans is scheduled to make his first title defense against undefeated karate specialist Lyoto Machida.