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Rashad Evans - "Sugar"

Rashad "Sugar" Evans was born on September 25th, 1979 in Niagra Falls, New York. Rashad was a two-time all-state wrestler in high school while also playing football. He went on to college where he continued wrestling. He won the National Junior College Championship in the 165lb division and quickly moved on to Michigan State University where he started on the wrestling team for three successive years. He defeated legendary wrestler Greg Jones during this time, one of only four people to accomplish this feat.

Evans began his MMA training in 2004 under noted wrestler Dan Severn. After winning every major competition that he entered, Rashad was chosen to compete on season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter, Spike's reality series. Evans battled his way through favorites such as Mike Whitehead and Keith Jardine, eventually earning the right to battle it out with Brad Imes in the finals. Though Imes had an eight inch height advantage, Evans managed to hold on for a split-decision, earning him a three-year contract with the UFC. His "get-through" attitude was seen as his best quality during his many victories on the reality show and UFC management had high hopes for his success in their league.

Evans was invited to train with Greg Jackson at his Submission Fighting School and he began losing weight in order to drop into the light heavyweight division for his first UFC fight. The tactic worked and Evans defeated his first opponent Sam Hoger by yet another split decision. He quickly followed with a majority decision victory over Stephan Bonnar in June of 2006.

Jason Lambert was Rashad's next big challenge, seen by many as his most difficult challenge to date. Evans was considered the underdog (as he was in most of his fights) but still managed an impressive knockout victory in the second round. Evans continued his storied success with a much-highlighted high kick to the head of Sean Salmon in his next fight, winning the bout and causing Salmon to be carried out on a stretcher. While Salmon hadn’t moved during the several tense minutes following the fight, he was declared to be in good health upon his arrival to hospital.

Evans was finally given a strong challenge in the form of Tito Ortiz. The two huge men battled to an entertaining draw, prompting calls for an immediate rematch. UFC CEO Dana White responded to the Ortiz's personal request for a rematch during the press conference following UFC 73, saying that the fight would happen soon and with no matches for either fighter in between.

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