LAS VEGAS, Nev. --
"I try all my life to be champion, and I am very, very, very happy," said an emotional Machida after the victory. "Now I'm going to keep this belt for a long time."
Machida began the bout in typical fashion, picking his spots to engage and avoiding any damage in the process. Evans relied on feints and counterattacks but was unable to find any answer for Machida's offense.
The Brazilian dropped the former champ with a body kick-short left combo late in the first, and only intensified his assault in the second frame. A game Evans struggled back to his feet after hitting the mat for a second time midway through round 2, but a picture perfect left hook at the end of flurry found its mark and knocked Evans out cold at the 3:57 mark.
The one-sided victory left little doubt that Machida deserves to be called the best light heavyweight in the world, as much for the ease with which he dispatched the former champ as well as the complete lack of punishment that he absorbed in the nearly nine minutes of action.
Machida's victory also served as proof that his beloved art of Shotokan karate isn't obsolete in MMA after all. Just in case that point wasn't clear enough, "The Dragon" drew attention to it in his post-fight interview, shouting, "Karate's back!" to cheers from a supportive crowd.
In the night's co-main event, former UFC welterweight champ
"I didn't know exactly what hit me," said Hughes. "He obviously hit me pretty good."
While it might be too much of a stretch to say the two men went from enemies to friends over the course of the three-round bout, they ended the fight with a show of mutual respect and sportsmanship that seemed sincere enough to make you think that the bitter rivalry might finally be a thing of the past.
"As a fighter, regardless of what I thought about him personally, I always kept him in high regard," Serra said. "He's a hall of famer."
In other action ...
• Former UFC lightweight champ
• After nearly ending his night early thanks to a guillotine choke off a double-leg takedown in the first round,