Daniel Kelly spoiled Rashad Evans’ middleweight debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship at UFC 209 inside the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada, Saturday night.
By virtue of being the more accurate and aggressive fighter, Kelly earned a 29-28 decision on two of the three judges’ scorecards. The third judge scored the bout 29-28 for Evans, who because of medical issues had been out of action in nearly a year.
A former light-heavyweight champion, Evans had fought just twice since November of 2013 before making the switch down to middleweight after spending much of his UFC career in the light-heavyweight division.
According to FightMetric, Kelly outpointed Evans, 89-53, in overall strikes and held an 84-50 advantage in significant strikes. Overall, Kelly, a four-time Australian judo Olympian, landed 44 percent of his strikes and won the bout despite being 0 for 8 in takedown attempts.
Despite having a torn ligament and meniscus in his right (lead) knee that required a brace over a heavy layer of tape, Kelly improved to 12-1-0 in his mixed martial arts career. Kelly has won four straight fights and six of his seven bouts since joining the UFC in November of 2014.
With the loss, Evans dropped to 19-6-1 in his career, and has lost five of his last seven fights, including three straight setbacks.