No one said it was going to be easy. That's the lesson that undefeated Strikeforce lightweight standout Billy Evangelista learned in his most recent fight for the promotion.

This past Friday he went toe-to-toe with one of California's toughest 155-pound fighters, the always popular Nam Phan, in what was a back and forth battle that eventually saw Evangelista come out on top with a split-decision victory.

Still, in the end, a victory is a victory and he learned from the experience and is now positioned as one of the promotion's top fighters for the coming year.

"I think it wasn't one of my best performances, but as far as everything else, I had a good fight," he said of his win over Phan.

"I have a respect for all the fighters, and I knew that he was going to be tough. I knew to just be confident in myself and go in there and do the best that I can."

Normally a high-output fighter, at times, Evangelista seemed to be doing all he could just to survive Nam's onslaught, never quite exploding as he had in previous fights.

When asked about this, he revealed, "I just felt tired right after I took him down the first time. That was nothing bad with my condition or technique or anything else, it's just that I cut too much weight too fast.

"I don't want to take the fight away from Nam, he gave me a great fight, but the energy level just wasn't there."

Another surprising aspect of the bout is that both fighters dominated an area of the fight that it was anticipated their opponent would.

"I think he was beating me in the striking, but as far as the wrestling, I was able to still incorporate my wrestling into the fight," admitted Evangelista.

"As far as taking him down and using the ground and pound, I felt I was dominating there. Just using basic knowledge of jiu-jitsu, I knew what he was trying to do, and I was just trying to counter that, stop him from using it."

Having taken a step up in competition facing Nam Phan and won, Evangelista looks forward to continuing to face higher-level opposition as his career continues forward.

"I see myself fighting a lot of tough opponents, a lot of good name guys," he commented. "We're trying to fight the best and become the best."

"It's not just a show where we we're just going to go out there and fight, and just say I'm a fighter, just to brag that I'm a fighter. I don't want to do that. I want to go out there and fight and compete with the best."

As Evangelista continues to grow and mature as a fighter, he looks to be an increasingly difficult task for anyone looking to make a name for themselves in the Strikeforce 155-pound division.

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