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Evans and Mir crowned new champions at “UFC 92: Ultimate 2008”

The UFC held its biggest card of 2008 on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with not one, but two new champions crowned.

In the main event of UFC 92, subtitled “The Ultimate 2008,” season two heavyweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Rashad Evans became the new UFC light heavyweight champion following a stunning third round TKO over Forrest Griffin.

Griffin, the light heavyweight winner from the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, was making his first defense of the title he won from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson following a unanimous decision victory this past July at UFC 86.

Following a dominant second round showing, it appeared Griffin was well on his way to earning a successful defense in his first bout as the promotion’s 205 pound king but Evans turned the tide in the third after catching a kick and taking to Griffin to the mat.

Utilizing a loose guard in an attempt to pull off a submission, Griffin gave Evans plenty of room to work his ground and pound and the former police officer became dazed following a series of brutal hammerfists by Evans. As Evans began to rain down punches, Griffin turned to his side with his body flailing as a result of the furious momentum that were behind the blows being delivered by Evans.

Amid the barrage from Evans in which Griffin failed to intelligently defend himself, referee Steve Mazzagatti stepped in to call a stop to the fight at 2:46 of round 3 with Evans being declared the new UFC light heavyweight champion via TKO by way of punches.

Despite being a former wrestling standout at Michigan State, Evans’ ascension to the rank of the number one light heavyweight fighter in the world is one that had been considered unlikely. Even in spite of his devastating second round knockout over former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell this past September at UFC 88, Evans entered the fight vs. Griffin as a underdog.

While considered to be a good fighter, Evans was not viewed by many industry insiders as a future champion in one of the UFC’s deepest divisions. Counted out by critics at numerous times of his career, Evans proved the pundits wrong yet again by taking possession of what is considered by many to be the most prestigious title in mixed martial arts — a belt not only once held by Liddell, but also fellow UFC icons Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz.

But Evans isn’t the promotion’s only new unlikely champion to come out of UFC 92, with former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir taking his career resurrection to new levels following a second round TKO over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Like Evans, Mir was also an underdog heading into the bout but shook off rumors of a disappointing training camp leading up to the fight by turning in the best striking performance of his career. Nogueira was considered to be the better striker coming into the fight having trained heavily in the past with the Cuban National Boxing Team, but it was Mir who dominated the standup aspect of the fight.

Showing surprisingly good head movement and fancy footwork, Mir pressured Nogueira in the first round en route to not one, but two knockdowns which garnered him a probable 10-8 round on the judges’ scorecards. Mir had Nogueira in trouble on multiple occasions in the first round but displayed tactical mastery by electing not to punch himself out in an attempt to finish a fighter known for his ability to absorb incredible amounts of punishment.

In spite of Nogueira’s legendary reputation for escaping the brink of defeat and coming back to win, UFC 92 would mark the first time in his career in which he would be TKO’d. Following two stiff left hands courtesy of Mir, a grounded Nogueira was finished for good with the referee calling a stop to the contest at 1:54 of round 2. The former PRIDE heavyweight champion rose to his feet soon after the stoppage but any question as to whether the fight was stopped prematurely was erased as Nogueira wobbled while walking in the center of the Octagon.

With the win, Mir became the new interim heavyweight champion, earning the opportunity to unify his interim title with the official UFC heavyweight title in an upcoming rematch with incumbent Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar won the title from Randy Couture during UFC 91 on November 15 following a second round TKO. With Mir’s victory, he will now be afforded the opportunity to earn a measure of revenge stemming from their encounter at UFC 81 last February in which Mir secured a first round submission following a kneebar. The loss is the lone blemish on the former NCAA heavyweight champion’s MMA record.

In addition to Evans vs. Griffin and Mir vs. Nogueira, UFC 92 also offered a third highly-anticipated main event-caliber matchup between Jackson and former PRIDE middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva.

Jackson overcame personal turmoil caused by a July episode in which he was arrested on felony evading, hit-and-run and reckless driving in order to knock out Silva with a brilliant left hook.

With the win, Jackson not only began to distance himself from his disappointing title defeat at UFC 86 but avenged two previous losses to Silva while the two men competed in Japan for PRIDE. Jackson now could find himself in a position to challenge Evans for the light heavyweight title while Silva will have to reassess his career following three severe knockouts within the last two years.

In addition to the hook that knocked him out cold at UFC 92, Silva also was taken out by a high kick delivered by Mirko Cro Cop at PRIDE’s “Final Conflict Absolute” in 2006. The Cro Cop knockout was then followed by another major knockout at the hands of Dan Henderson at PRIDE 33 in which Silva lost his middleweight title.

The show’s two other main card bouts saw Cheick Kongo TKO Cage Rage heavyweight champion Mostapha Al-Turk via strikes at 4:37 of round 1 and C.B. Dollaway TKO Mike Massenzio via strikes at 3:01 of round 1 in a battle of former Junior College wrestling rivals.

Results from the five-bout non-televised undercard included former K-1 standout Pat Barry make a successful UFC debut following a first round TKO over Dan Evensen due to injury. Additionally, Brad Blackburn defeated Ryo Chonan via unanimous decision; Matt Hamill TKO’d Reese Andy at 2:19 of round 2; Antoni Hardonk TKO’d UFC heavyweight newcomer Mike Wessel at 2:09 of round 2; and Yushin Okami defeated Dean Lister via unanimous decision. The victories by Hardonk, Barry, and Hamill all aired during the UFC 92 PPV telecast on a tape-delay basis.

18 COMMENTS
  • kentuckyfightfan says:

    All the Mir haters need to fess up and retract their foolish, doubting remarks. I told everyone if not for Mirs accident years back, he’d be considered in the same breath as Fedor. Maybe now you guys will wake up and see the talent that is Frank Mir!

  • KTru says:

    Stop the Mir and Fedor same sentence garbage., Mir won and let him enjoy it

  • kentuckyfightfan says:

    I did not say Mir is in same breath as Fedor at the present. I said if not for his accident, he’d be considered in the same breath…considered…if he had stayed at his rate of developement, at that time…we may never know now because of the set back as a result of Mir’s wreck.

  • Andrew says:

    Mike Goldberg said in the broadcast that people close to Mir told UFC insiders that Mir was in great shape. Your sources said he didnt have a good training camp. What is up with your reporting, Sam? You are really losing a lot of credibility.

    Editor’s Note: Normally I try to ignore this kind of nonsense, but you’re completely off base. First, Mir hardly looked like he was in peak physical condition last night. Second, he didn’t win that fight because of stamina, he won it as the result of skill. Because of when the fight ended, no one is in a position to try and validate Mir’s conditioning because we didn’t see it put to the test. Three, FiveOuncesOfPain.com was not the only site to report that people within Mir’s camp were claiming he didn’t have a great training camp. Four, Mir’s past history of having conditioning issues is well-chronicled and he himself has acknowledged his shortcomings in that regard in the past. Five, Mike Goldberg is an employee of the UFC. What do you expect him to say?

  • Rich S. says:

    Rashad Evans is invincible…

    the only person on this earth that i can see beating Rashad now… is Machida.. simply because i think he’s invincible too..

    I guess i’m never going to pick against Rashad again..

  • tylerdante69 says:

    Brock is still a differnt fighter from Nog.

    Mir will have to face a very powerful offense compared to what he faced last night.

    I still think Brock could take him but I do want Mir to win.

  • nichole says:

    I never came off the Mir bandwagon, even when he was on the injured shelf. He came back too early, and he’s admitted as much. He gave up on himself and his conditioning, he’s admitted that as well.

    That clearly has past now. As he mentioned post-fight w/ Hardonk, now you’ll see Frank Mir.

    If this dismantling of Nog isn’t enough to sway your opinion of Mir, then I guess him pulling off one of Lesnar’s limbs and taking it home with him will have to. And I’d say that is what’s coming– a severe submission a la Sylvia.

    Provided he doesn’t get overconfident in the prior victory over Brock, and this one over Nog. But I don’t think he will. We’ll see.

  • ctownhood says:

    Mir looked great last night..his stand up was light years ahead of where it was. But, if you think he’ll be able to sub Lesnar, after an additional 1 year+ of training and experience, you’re going to be disappointed. Lesnar will pose different threats than Big Nog. His speed, athleticism, and brute strength are too much for Mir. Lesnar showed that ion the first matchup. I doubt Mir will be able to floor Brock like he did Nog. He’ll need another Hail Mary leglock to win again.

  • Grappo says:

    “All the Mir haters need to fess up and retract their foolish, doubting remarks. I told everyone if not for Mirs accident years back, he’d be considered in the same breath as Fedor. Maybe now you guys will wake up and see the talent that is Frank Mir!”

    @kentuckyfightfan

    Wow, you told everyone that if not for something that happened, something else would have happened! Such insight is remarkable. I told people that if I hadn’t broken my leg playing college football, I’d be an NFL superstar right now, but no one took me seriously. Caplan you should really consider putting this fella on staff.

    I didn’t see many (or any, actually) people denying that Mir has talent. I’ve ragged on the attitude he displayed on TUF, and I hoped Nog would KHTFO, but Mir’s performance was really impressive, as were his comments in the post-fight interview. He showed the thoughtful, humble demeanor that I’d always attributed to him before I saw the cocky, trash-talking side on TUF. I’m really looking forward to seeing if he stays focused and keeps improving… and to seeing Lesnar crush him in the rematch.

  • Mike Elson says:

    How about Dana allows Tito to fight Rashad for the title. This would be a great rematch and create huge numbers. If you remember Tito should have won the last fight if he did not grab the fence. If Dana and Tito could kiss and make up this would be an amazing fight.

  • Cathedron says:

    Mir vs Lesnar 2 is going to be a completely different fight from last time. Mir has become a much more complete fighter and Lesnar is obviously comfortable in the Octagon. Very interesting.

    And maybe now we’ll get to see Randy vs Nog.

  • screwface says:

    im not a mir hater, but i admit i called this fight wrong and my only bad pick of the night. so ill gladly say congrats mir, i didnt think u could do it, u had an excellent gameplan and did the unthinkable, knocking out a seemingly invincible chin in nog. your speech at the end of the fight was wonderful, and i hope u put it on lesnar in your rematch for unified title.

  • JJ Docker says:

    On the homepage image linking to this article (“New Champions Crowned”) is it supposed to be a picture of Frank Mir and Anderson Silva? Or is it actually meant to be Frank Mir and Rashad Evans as this would make slightly more sense?

  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    That’s Evans from a weird angle.
    Man I thought I knew everything about MMA.
    I knew Wandy would kill Rampage.
    I knew Big Nog would kill Mir.
    I knew Forrest would kill Rashad.
    I got schooooled last night.
    And I loved every minute of it.
    Back to the effing drawing board.

  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    And by the way,
    Happy New Year 5 OOP!
    Thanks for proving me wrong time and time again.
    Looking forward to 2009.
    Luke

  • JJ Docker says:

    I’m sorry, and not that it matters, but there is no way that is “Evans from a weird angle”.

  • eazye says:

    Its Anderson Silva on the main page pic. Pretty clear

  • BigDave says:

    Ok now everyone is on the Mir bandwagon, as if I didnt see that happening if he pulled of a mirecle win. But that being said he looked better then i have ever seen him, his standup was on point, and Nog just looked old in there now whether it was Mir’s style or just bad training i dont know. There is one thing that im as sure of as i am that the sun will rise in the morning and that is that Mir is going to get absolutely destroyed in the rematch against Brock. Brock was clearly on his way to a vicious ko of Mir in the 1st fight until the fluke leg lock. That is not going to happen the next time they squareoff. Brock has more experience and is now growing in leaps and bounds with his bjj and that my friends is the scaryest thing in mma. A 265 pounder that moves like a 170lbs with brute strength and a jiu jitsu game? Glad ill be on the outside of the octogon.

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