ATLANTA -- UFC President Dana White on Sunday confirmed that Rashad Evans had vaulted to the top of the list of potential challengers for Forrest Griffin’s light heavyweight championship.
Evans (12-0-1) stunned former champion and future Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell (Pictures) at UFC 88 “Breakthrough” at Philips Arena on Saturday, as he knocked out the popular Californian in scintillating fashion. Still unbeaten, Evans leveled Liddell with a devastating overhand right in the second round of their main event tilt. He met the news that he had earned his title shot with a smile and some perspective.
“I’m very happy,” Evans said. “It’s exciting. I’m still living in the moment right now. I haven’t really put any thoughts to [my title shot] -- title fight, whatever, it’s just another fight.”
Griffin -- the light heavyweight winner on season one of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series -- and Evans -- the heavyweight winner on season two -- could conceivably meet on Dec. 27 in Las Vegas. That card will feature the interim heavyweight championship bout between Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) and Frank Mir (Pictures).
Despite being criticized for an inability to finish early in his UFC career, Evans has secured three of his last four wins by knockout. None were more significant than the latest. Liddell, arguably the sport’s most popular fighter, lay motionless for several tense moments after Evans’ right hand connected with his chin 1:51 into round two.
“I plan to keep on reinventing myself and fighting at the level I believe I’m capable of,” Evans said. “Tonight, it went pretty well, but I did get caught with some shots. I didn’t want to get hit at all. Maybe next time I can not get hit at all.”
Griffin (16-4), meanwhile, defeated the favored Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by unanimous decision in July to capture the UFC light heavyweight crown. In his last two outings, he has defeated Jackson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, at one time believed to be the top two 205-pound fighters in the world.