Rashad Evans makes UFC Hall of Fame

The Associated PressIn this Dec. 27, 2008 file photo, Niagara Falls native Rashad Evans celebrates after winning the light heavyweight championship over Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 in Las Vegas.

UFC announced Saturday that Niagara Falls native and former Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara County Community College star Rashad Evans will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Modern Wing’ as a member of the class of 2019 during a July 5 ceremony 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 in a press release. “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, the former UFC light heavyweight champion and winner of season two of The Ultimate Fighter, will enter the UFC Hall of Fame as a member of the Modern Wing, joining 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.

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, Griffin and Tito Ortiz, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson, former UFC middleweight champion and 2019 UFC Hall of Fame inductee Bisping, UFC 17: Redemption middleweight tournament champion and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson, and former WEC light heavyweight champion Jason Lambert.

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. Evans 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, Evans moved to light heavyweight and proceeded to win six of his first seven fights at 205 pounds inside the Octagon, capped off by a highlight reel knockout of 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 Griffin at UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008.

As the main event of UFC 92, which took place December 27, 2008 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. He would bounce back from his loss, winning his next four fights and repeatedly facing some of the biggest names in combat sports history before retiring in 2018.

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 began wrestling at N-W, advancing to the state finals in 1997 and 1998, placing fourth during both tournaments while also earning all-state honors each year. He began his collegiate wrestling career at NCCC, becoming the 2000 junior college national champion in the 165-pound weight class. In 2001, Evans transferred to Michigan State, where he was a member of the wrestling team for three years, finishing his career with 48 wins, 34 losses and two top-five finishes in the Big Ten Conference Championships (2002, 4th; 2003, 3rd).

Outside the Octagon, Evans has become an acclaimed combat sports analyst with ESPN and an accomplished coach, as he continues to help train up-and-coming MMA athletes as a member of Henri Hooft’s Hard Knocks 365 gym in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.