Several sites, including MMAjunkie.com, are reporting that UFC President Dana White announced to members of the media last night that with his upset win over Chuck Liddell at UFC 88 last night, Rashad Evans has earned himself an immediate title shot at current champion Forrest Griffin.
“(UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta), (UFC V.P. of Talent Relations) Joe (Silva) and I got together and thought yeah, he deserves the title shot,” MMA Junkie quotes White as saying. “How could you say, ‘No, he doesn’t deserve the shot’ after [that]?”
Despite the pronouncement that Evans will receive the next title shot at 205, White stopped short of say when and where the fight between he and Griffin would take place. Speculation had indicated that with a win over Evans, Liddell would receive a title shot vs. Griffin during the UFC’s annual New Year’s Eve weekend show in Las Vegas on Dec. 27. All signs point to Griffin vs. Evans taking place on that date, but nothing has been confirmed.
Both Griffin and Evans are former winners of Spike TV and the UFC’s hit reality television show “The Ultimate Fighter.” A matchup between season one and two winners could make for an intriguing storyline.
The UFC also announced during the post-show press conference for UFC 88 that four of its fighters had received $60,000 bonuses. Those fighters include Evans, Jason MacDonald, Kurt Pellegrino, and Thiago Tavares.
Evans was rewarded on top of his guaranteed salary and his win bonus with a third payoff in the form of a “Knockout of the Night” bonus thanks to a one-punch knockout of Liddell at 1:51 of round 2.
MacDonald was compensated for his rear naked choke victory over Jason Lambert at 1:20 of round 2 that garnered “Submission of the Night.” The bout was the second of the night and occurred live during the preliminary card but still was shown during last night’s telecast on a tape-delay basis.
Pellegrino and Tavares were awarded $60,000 each for their respective role in what the UFC determined was “The Fight of the Night.” Pellegrino won the fight via unanimous decision in the final live fight before the pay-per-view went live. Unfortunately, the Pellegrino vs. Tavares fight was only one of two fights last night that did not make it to air. However, the fight is now available free of charge on UFC.com.
UFC 88 attendance figures are strong
According to published reports, UFC 88 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta drew 14,736 fans for a total gate of $2.6 million.