While the year of 2008 has come and passed us by we are still handing out awards for different things that occurred throughout the year. However, it occurred to me that MMA4Real had not named it's fighter of the year for 2008. Well the time has come, and that fighter is going to be named today. There's a bunch of different criteria you can use in these type of awards and most of them are arguable. However, the following are my reasons as to why this fighter is MMA4Real's 2008 fighter of the year:
- He fought and defeated two top 5 opponents in Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin in arguable the toughest division in all of MMA.
- Both Liddell and Griffin are difficult to finish and he stopped both fighters inside of 2 rounds
- He completely shed any notion of him being a boring fighter
- Both wins were pretty significant within the grand scheme of things in terms of the UFC LHW division
- He is the #1 LHW fighter in the world
I suppose by now you have figured out that I'm speaking about Rashad Evans. I've always been a fan of Rashad Evans every since he came on the scene of TUF 2. I can recall many hours spent typing on message boards about the potential the guy possessed. I profusely told anyone that would listen that he would own Tito Ortiz if they ever fought, when most people thought Ortiz would run through him(even though Ortiz cheated for half the fight by grabbing shorts/cage). I also was one of the very few that gave him a chance of defeating Chuck Liddell at UFC 88.
Rashad Evans has done a complete 360 in terms how people can perceive him as a fighter nowadays. Gone are the days in which people can call him a lay and pray fighter. Gone are the days that people can call him one dimensional. Gone are the days that people can continue to doubt him in every fight he's involved in. To be able to turn all of these things around within a year is simply astonishing. Rashad Evans was supposed to be a stepping stone for Chuck Liddell to try and re-gain the title he lost at UFC 71. However, he monkey-wrenched that plan with a devastating right hand. Evans was barely ranked in the top ten at the beginning of 2008 by most if at all. With his victory over Forrest Griffin at UFC 92, he now finds himself at the top of the mountain that's called the UFC LHW division. Arguably, the best division in MMA as we presently know it.
Certainly you could make a case for a couple of other fighters to get this award, but looking at everything as a whole. I don't think the things they have accomplished can top what Rashad Evans was able to do in 2008. Not only did he become a champion, and not only is he still undefeated. He changed the landscape of the UFC LHW division all by himself.