Rashad Evans (born September 25, 1979 in Niagara Falls, New York) is an American mixed martial arts fighter.
He was a two-time all-State wrestler at Niagara-Wheatfield High School in Sanborn, New York. He was also a two-way player on the school’s football team, playing running back when on offense and safety on defense.
After graduating from high school in 1997, Evans went on to attend Niagara County Community College, where he continued his wrestling career, winning the National Junior College championship at 165 lb. (75 kg) in 2000. He then transferred to Michigan State University, competing in the 174 lb. (79 kg) weight class. Since earning a degree in psychology, he has remained a resident of Lansing, Michigan, where Michigan State is situated.
In the spring of 2004, Evans appeared in five professional mixed martial arts fights, and won all five — leading to his being selected as one of the nine heavyweights to compete in the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, a reality TV series on Spike TV. The show’s second season began airing on August 22, 2005, culminating in a live fight between the two finalists (in each of two weight classes, heavyweight and welterweight), to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 5, 2005.
Despite having been the shortest — at 5 ft 11 in (180 cm) and the second lightest — at 225 lb. (102 kg) of the nine original heavyweight competitors, Rashad Evans made it to the finals and defeated Brad Imes by split decision in the November 5 finale, thus winning a three-year, six-figure contract with the UFC and a brand new car. His first fight under the contract took place on April 6, 2006 against Sam Hoger, who was a semifinalist on Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter in the light-heavyweight (205 lb.) division. Evans dropped down to this weight class after the UFC Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale win, determining he would have a better chance of success in this division. Evans defeated Hoger via split decision despite nearly falling victim to a kimura submission at the end of the second round.
Even though still undefeated, with his last seven fights going to the judge’s cards (three of these officially being classified as exhibition bouts since they occurred on The Ultimate Fighter), many have wondered if he has what it takes to put his opponents away and question how he would fare against some of the top competitors in his weight division. However, others have pointed out that he has had to overcome considerable disadvantages in height and reach in three of these fights, and a weight disadvantage of approximately 30 pounds (14 kg) in a fourth.
Rashad Evans now trains out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, under the tutelage of noted submission fighting instructor Greg Jackson, as do two of the other fighters who competed as heavyweights on the same season of The Ultimate Fighter (Dan Christison and Keith Jardine, the latter now, like Evans, also competing as a light-heavyweight).