Sugar Dissolves the Iceman as Evans KO’s Liddell at UFC 88: Breakthrough

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It would be at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia where former light heavyweight champion, Chuck Liddell would have to reevaluate his future in fighting in the UFC after being knocked unconscious by Rashad Evans almost two minutes into the 2nd round of the main event at UFC 88: Breakthrough.
“Sugar” Rashad Evans now improves his perfect record to 17-0-1 after a somewhat lackluster first round Saturday night.  A seemingly emotionless, focused Chuck Liddell stalked down the hallway as he entered the arena wanting to prove that he was still a threat in the light heavyweight division.  Also wanting to prove that he was not “too old” as Evans would be quoted saying earlier in the week.  As both fighters took nearly the entire opening round to feel each other out both would land punches but the shots looked light and non- threatening.  About three minutes into the round Liddell would land a heavy right hand but Evans laughed it off and danced a little in the ring to prove he was not hurt by it.  As expected, Liddell would whirl his left hand out and use it as bait trying to distract Evans thus trying to set up a patented “Iceman” right hand.  Having probably watched many tapes prior to the fight, Evans mimicked the same style as he used his left hand to do the same thing.  As the first round drew to a close, both fighters went to their respective corners nearly untouched as the crowd grew restless.   
The second round started where the first left off as both fighters threw a few more punches than the first but the shots still appeared to leave little damage.  That was until nearly the two minute mark when Chuck threw an uppercut at the same time as Evans threw an overhand right landing square on the chin of Liddell putting him face down on the mat as famed referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout. 
“I thought we had a good game plan, I just didn’t execute it well,” Liddell said at the press conference.  “It’s still my goal to get it (the light heavyweight title) back, it will just take more time now.” 
The win from Evans now jumps him up in the line of worthy opponents for the current light heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin.  “This fight was about the timing and I knew I was faster than him,” said Evans, “I got him frustrated and that’s when I capitalized”.
In the much anticipated undercard, Rich “Ace” Franklin made his return to the UFC after three years to take on former Ultimate Fighter Season 3 member Matt Hamill.  With both fighters exchanging in the first round, it would be Hamill that would land a vicious right that would open a fight ending cut under Franklin’s right eye.  Time out was taken to examine the right eye early in the second round but the fight would be cleared to continue.  It would be early in the third round that Franklin would land a vicious kick to the liver sending Hamill buckled to the mat as Franklin would take home the win. 
Former PRIDE champion, Dan Henderson also made his return to the UFC Saturday night as he won a unanimous decision over Rousimar Palhares. 
For complete results of UFC 88 log on to www.ufc.com .

Photos courtesy of UFC. 

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