If it weren't for his stunning overhand right that sent Chuck Liddell to the canvas for one of the UFC's biggest main-event upsets, Rashad Evans would likely be fielding questions about two other topics.
Why exactly was he twisting his nipples during pre-fight introductions? And what was up the Bill Gates mugshot T-shirt Evans sported throughout this past weekend?
On today's edition of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com), Evans said they were just inside jokes that originated at his home with Team Jackson.
During this past Saturday's UFC 88 event at Atlanta's Philips Arena, as Bruce Buffer bellowed Evans' bio and name during pre-fight introductions, cameras caught Evans licking his fingers and then tweaking his nipples. The strange move has fueled more than a few forum postings -- especially since teammate and current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre did the same thing before his latest title defense over Jon Fitch.
"Georges St. Pierre was the first do it, and it's just sort of an inside joke," Evans said.
Evans said St. Pierre had heard it was supposed to bring good luck -- according to some ancient fighting myths, anyway. And if there's anything the New Mexico-based Team Jackson group knows, it's unity. Led by famed fight strategist and head trainer Greg Jackson, the team has created a sense of brotherhood among team members Evans, St. Pierre, Keith Jardine, Nate Marquardt, Joey Villasenor and others.
"Georges said it was supposed to good luck or something, so I said, 'Cool, alright,'" Evans said, laughing.
As for the T-shirt, Evans said it was also an inside joke with the team.
"That shirt, it's [Gates'] mugshot," Evans said. "He was arrested in Albuquerque, N.M. He started off Microsoft in the basement of the Bank One Building. That's right next to the (Team Jackson) gym.
That's the only association right now, but the team is hopeful Gates could become more involved with Team Jackson someday.
"Maybe one day he'll be part of my crew," Evans joked.
Evans knew people might be confused those things, and it's been easy for him to laugh it off. However, there's been another byproduct from this past weekend's win, and it's no laughing matter.
"It just bothers me that people are so quick to be so judgmental and negative toward me even when I win a fight," Evans said.
Evans, "The Ultimate Fighter 2" winner who pushed his career record to 12-0-1 with the win over Liddell, attributed much of the current hostility to his toppling of a giant -- scoring an upset over such a fan favorite.
He also thinks some fans misinterpreted some of his foot and head work as showboating, which he said just isn't true.
"People are just so upset that I won this fight," Evans said. "They're like, 'Oh, those antics, he's such a showboater.' I'm like, 'How was I showboating?' They way I move is the way I move. When I wrestled in college, I wrestled the exact same way. I have a lot of movement. That's just the way I move. That's what makes me feel comfortable, and people just get so mad about that.
"(UFC broadcaster) Joe Rogan is like, 'I don't know if Rashad Evans is trying to throw [Liddell] off his game or of he's trying to showboat. First of all, you showboat when you do something. If I haven't done anything, there's nothing to showboat about.
"I'm just trying to get my game going. I'm just like, 'What are you talking about?' If Anderson Silva did it, it would be 'superb technique,' but when I do it, it's showboating."