The plan as you all know was for a super fight between current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin and the winner of the UFC 88 main-event, with Liddell the overwhelming favorite. It was an attempt to restore Chuck as a genuine contender after consecutive losses to “Rampage” Jackson and Keith Jardine, as the top contender for the Light Heavyweight title.
Instead Evans gave the “Iceman” a dose of his own medicine, melting any chances of a title shot and putting serious doubts over the future of once, the most feared striker in MMA. Liddell is at his best on the counter but Rashad did a great job of being elusive in the first round frustrating the favorite to chase, leaving himself open.
The fact is a Liddell/Griffin super-fight would have put the UFC publicity machine into overdrive; the older poster boy of the UFC against its newest star would have been a money-spinning blockbuster!
Dana White announced in the post UFC 88 press conference that Evans will get an immediate title shot against Griffin, with the date yet to be confirmed though heavily rumored to be an end of year December showdown. From a publicity standpoint this fight may not generate the same hype but does make for a really fascinating clash.
People may question Forrest’s UFC 86 victory against Quinton but there is no questioning his character; it is so refreshing to see the modesty with which he goes about his business.
Griffin is such a well-rounded fighter always prepared for a stand-up war with a superb yet under-rated Jui-Jitsu game, before submitting “Shogun” Rua at UFC 76. This is reflected in a breakdown of his 16 MMA professional career wins; with 3 wins via KO, 7 by way of Submission and 6 in a Decision victory.
“Sugar” conversely is bit of a showman by nature with an impressive unbeaten record looking to build on the confidence gained from his brutal knockout of Liddell. Evans is a terrific wrestler with an ever improving stand-up game as he showed the world at UFC 88.
In his last five fights Rashad has scored three KO wins, one Decision victory and a Draw against Tito Ortiz. In the 10 fights before that he had only scored one KO victory, five in a Decision victory, three by way of Submission with one due to a No-Contest.
I get the feeling, that if Evans wins it may well be by KO or more likely a Decision victory. The reason I say KO is firstly, due to Rashad’s sharply improving stand-up game, secondly as I would not put it past Forrest to get involved in a stand-up war of attrition as he is full of heart and never backs down, finally because 50 percent (2/4) of Griffin’s Losses have come via KO. Of course a Decision victory statistically is the most likely method in the case of an Evans victory.
If Forrest wins it will most likely be by a Submission or a Decision Victory with only one KO win to his name in the UFC, over Elvis Sinosic who had seven losses in 15 fights at that time. Now that is not to say, Forrest cannot produce a devastating knockout victory over Rashad. Or that Rashad cannot beat Forrest by a submission, just that history does not make it as likely.
In the deepest most competitive division of the UFC with stars like Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, the unbeaten duo of Lyoto Machida and Thiago Silva to name a few, it is two former “The Ultimate Fighter” (TUF) winners and relative protégés, that are now at the top of the division.
This emphasizes the depth, variation and mainly the unpredictable nature of MMA; the main reason we all love this sport so much!
MY FINAL VERDICT: This fight will go to five rounds and Forrest Griffin will come out on top with a Decision Victory!