A long overdue accolade is finally awarded to the UFC icon.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion “Suga” Rashad Evans is making his way to the UFC Hall of Fame.
Over the weekend the UFC announced that Evans, the winner of season two of The Ultimate Fighter, will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Modern Wing’ as a member of the class of 2019.
The 2019 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, will take place on Friday, July 5, at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
“Rashad and I have been close since season two of The Ultimate Fighter and we’ve had an amazing relationship,” UFC President Dana White said.
“It has been fun to see him succeed and grow as a fighter, become a world champion and then a respected coach for up and coming fighters, and then to see him retire last year. I love to see him still involved with UFC. I couldn’t be prouder of Rashad than I am right now with him being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.”
Evans will join Forrest Griffin (2013), BJ Penn (2015), Urijah Faber (2017), Ronda Rousey (2018) and Michael Bisping (2019).
The “Modern Era” category includes athletes who turned pro on or after November 17, 2000 (when the unified rules of mixed martial arts were adopted), are a minimum age of 35, or have been retired for one year or more.
On June 25th, 2018, Evans announced his retirement from mixed martial arts. Many in the mixed martial arts community were up in arms when Michael ”The Count” Bisping’s induction into the Hall of Fame was announced on March 16th, 2019.
Bisping retired on May 28th, 2018 just a month earlier than Evans.
A Legendary Career
A native of Niagara Falls, New York, Evans began wrestling in high school, advancing to the state finals in 1997 and 1998. He placed fourth in both tournaments while also earning All-State honors each year.
Following high school, Rashad began his collegiate wrestling career at Niagara County Community College, becoming the 2000 Junior College National Champion in the 165 lbs. weight class.
In 2001, Evans transferred to Michigan State University, where he was a member of the Spartans wrestling team for three years. Evans finished his career with 48 wins, 34 losses and two Top 5 finishes in the Big Ten Conference Championships in 2002 and 2003.
A veteran of 33 professional fights during his 14-year career, Evans compiled a record of 24-8-1 (14-8-1, UFC), which included wins over UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Tito Ortiz, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson, as well as former UFC middleweight champion and 2019 UFC Hall of Fame inductee Michael Bisping.
Evans also has wins over former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson and former WEC light heavyweight champion Jason Lambert.
Evans enters the UFC Hall of Fame with a remarkable resume that includes:
- 1 of 8 TUF winners to become an undisputed UFC champion
- 20 fights – tied for 1st in modern light heavyweight history
- 50 takedowns – 2nd in modern light heavyweight history
- 13 wins – tied for 3rd in modern light heavyweight history
- 6 KO / TKO – tied for 3rd in modern light heavyweight history
Evans first made his mark as a heavyweight during the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. During the series, he defeated Tom Murphy, Mike Whitehead, and Keith Jardine to advance to the finale against Brad Imes. Rashad defeated Imes via split decision in the co-main event of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Franklin Finale, to win the heavyweight tournament.
After winning TUF, Rashad moved to light heavyweight and proceeded to win six of his first seven fights at 205 pounds. It was capped off by a highlight reel knockout of UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell in the main event of UFC 88: BREAKTHROUGH. The win improved his record to 17-0-1 and earned him a title shot against UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 92: THE ULTIMATE 2008.
As the main event of UFC 92: THE ULTIMATE 2008, which took place on December 27, 2008 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Evans and Griffin made history as the first TUF winners to face each other with a title on the line.
After defeating Griffin to capture the UFC light heavyweight title, Evans would lose his next fight to former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 98: EVANS vs. MACHIDA.
Rashad would bounce back from his loss to Machida, winning his next four fights and repeatedly facing some of the biggest names in combat sports history before retiring in 2018.
Outside the Octagon, Evans has become an acclaimed combat sports analyst with ESPN. He is also an accomplished coach helping train up and coming MMA athletes as a member of Henri Hooft’s Hard Knocks 365 gym in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Now living in his adopted hometown of Boca Raton, Florida, Rashad also spends time giving back to his local community as a board member of Always Progress, a South Florida-based charitable organization that helps at-risk youth overcome obstacles in life by showing the importance of making good decisions.