Rashad Evans is back and the UFC Hall of Famer can now celebrate a win following a dominant showcase in the Eagle FC 44 co-main event.
Out of action since 2018 when he announced his retirement, Evans, 42, returned on Friday night and looked rejuvenated while using a wrestling heavy attack to out-grapple Gabriel Checco round after round until ultimately securing a unanimous decision victory. When the fight was over, all three judges scored the fight 30-27 with Evans getting his first win since 2013.
“Action happened fast and before I knew it, I was just in the fight,” Evans said afterwards. “There was that moment where it was like damn, this is really happening. It felt like a dream.”
With Evans looking to find his footing after nearly four years away, Checco started hitting him with a series of kicks to the legs and body. Evans finally turned the tables after he caught Checco’s kick and brought him crashing back down to the canvas.
Once the fight was on the floor, Evans was methodical with his approach while peppering away at Checco and maintaining control to ensure he would stay on top. While Checco was constantly throwing up his legs and attempting to set up potential submissions, Evans refused to let him catch anything as he continued to press down on his opponent.
Following a strong opening round, Evans’ confidence was surging as he brought Checco back to the ground again and this time he was really able to hammer away with his punches. Checco did everything possible to scramble free but even after he landed a reversal and looked for a leg lock submission, Evans was patient before eventually making his escape.
With five minutes remaining, Evans clipped Checco with a short, inside punch during an early exchange, which then led to another takedown. From there, Evans was relentless with his ground-and-pound as he continuously threw punches to the head as well as knees to the body.
Evans never slowed down while Checco just looked stuck on the bottom until the final bell finally rang out.
Prior to the event, Evans said he was taking his comeback one fight at a time but it appears after knocking off the ring rust and getting a win that he’s ready to stay active with plans to return again.
“I feel like I need to get into a little bit better shape but I’m hoping,” Evans said. “I’m ready to roll. [Khabib Nurmagomedov], I’m ready baby, just put me in again. I’ll be in much better shape and be able to do a much better job.”