The former light heavyweight champion delivered a complete performance Saturday, defeating top prospect Phil Davis via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC on Fox 2.
Evans' effort was not quite spectacular but it was certainly beyond dispute. All three judges cageside scored the fight the same -- a dominant 50-45 for Evans.
"I fought at a pretty high pace but I wanted to put him away," Evans said. "I didn't get a chance to land the big punches. When you're fighting a guy as tough as Phil Davis, that can happen."
The win sets the table for a highly anticipated bout between Evans and Jones, the current light heavyweight champion and a former teammate. The UFC announced Saturday the fight will take place April 21 at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
The two were expected to fight twice in 2011, but injuries to Jones' hand and Evans' thumb postponed the matchup. With Davis out of the way, the path is finally clear.
"This fight was kind of the monkey on my back," said Evans, referring to the win. "It was hard to focus on this fight because everybody wanted to talk about [the Jones] fight.
"I won. I've got the opportunity to fight Jon and I'm excited about it."
Evans (17-1-1) was in control from the first bell. Credit to Davis (9-1) for staying in the fight and gutting through to the finish, but his offense was completely nullified by Evans all night.
Davis utilized plenty of kicks and continuously attempted to get Evans to the ground -- both to no avail. Evans was visibly superior in all aspects, most notably on the ground, where he regularly passed Davis' guard and controlled position.
The closest Evans came to finishing the fight actually came in the first round, when he established a mounted crucifix position and landed a series of unanswered punches to the helpless Davis. Davis eventually escaped the position before the end of the round.
Sonnen earns controversial decision over Bisping
Sonnen, listed as a 5-to-1 favorite in the fight, struggled in the first two rounds to not only take the British striker down, but to keep him there. Bisping managed to stay on his feet early and landed some clean shots to Sonnen when he had the space.
The third round was not as close, as Sonnen came out aggressive and took Bisping down in the opening seconds. He would eventually take his back and transition to full mount but was unable to do much damage or attempt a submission.
When the fight ended, both fighters raised his arms in victory.
The judges saw it for Sonnen by scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. The win likely sends Sonnen (27-11-1) to a highly coveted rematch against 185-pound champion Anderson Silva. Bisping (23-3) sees a four-fight win streak snapped.
"When you're the greatest fighter in the world, they call you Chael Sonnen," Sonnen said.
Weidman outpoints Maia, takes decision on 11 days' notice
The 27-year-old middleweight scored a unanimous decision win over Maia (the bout was originally scored a split decision for Maia) despite the fact he took the fight on just 11 days' notice. It marks easily the biggest win of Weidman's career and pushed his perfect record in the UFC to 4-0.
The fight lacked offense for the most part, as both athletes struggled to find any stretch of rhythm on the feet. Over the course of the three-round fight, however, it was Weidman who found more success, effectively missing in knees and eluding constant overhand left attempts from Maia.
In a somewhat puzzling move, Maia seemed determined to keep the fight off the ground. The decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist was never close to a submission and didn't even appear interested in attempting one. Both fighters visibly ran out of steam midway through the third.
Weidman (8-0) now finds himself in the upper tier of the 185-pound division, despite the fact he only joined the UFC last year. The loss is a big hit for Maia (15-5), who has now dropped two of his last three.
Dunham lights up Lentz in doctor stoppage victory
Following a close first round in which both fighters seemed to neutralize the others' offense, Dunham took control in the second. A series of short right hands during an exchange along the fence created a lot of swelling around the left eye of Lentz.
Dunham followed that series with good action from top position to close out the frame. Between rounds, a cageside doctor advised referee John McCarthy to stop the fight.
"The first round I felt I was a little flat," Dunham said. "My coach, Ray Sefo, says one round doesn't determine the next. I knew I needed to be more aggressive."
After a disappointing pair of defeats to Sean Sherk and Melvin Guillard, Dunham (13-2) has won his last two fights and stands at 6-2 in the UFC. Lentz (21-5-2) drops consecutive fights for the first time in his professional career.
Russow grinds unanimous decision over Einemo
Relying heavily on his wrestling, Russow took Einemo down repeatedly throughout the fight and showed no concern spending lots of time in the grappler's guard.
Einemo's only real shot at a win came in the third round, when he connected on a combination during Russow's takedown attempt and threatened with a triangle off his back. Russow calmly survived both and rode out the decision.
"It's a dream come true," said Russow, who works as a police officer in Chicago. "I apologize. It was a bit of a boring fight. John, that guy is a world champion jiu-jitsu player. He's a tough opponent."
The win pushes Russow (15-1) to 11 wins in a row, four of which have come in the UFC. Einemo drops to 0-2 in the promotion.
Swanson drops Roop via KO in second round
After struggling to find his range against a much taller opponent early on, Swanson started to find a rhythm late in the first round. That confidence carried over into the next frame, leading to the highlight finish at the 2:26 mark.
"I'm glad it landed," Swanson said. "That's a combination we work all the time back home at [trainer] Greg Jackson's."
Swanson (16-5) records his first win in the UFC, after losing his only fight in 2011 by split decision to Mackens Semerzier. Roop (12-9-1) who loses consecutive fights for the second time in his career, falls to 1-2 in the UFC.
Oliveira cruises, submits Wisely in featherweight debut
Charles Oliveira made his featherweight debut a quick one, posting a submission win over Eric Wisely just 1:43 into the first round.
The Brazilian prospect used a move rarely seen in the Octagon to finish the job, catching Wisely in a modified leglock as he tried to escape that put pressure on his calf and knee.
"[The move] is normal in my gym," Oliveira said. "I'm here to put on a show."
Oliveira (15-2) has now recorded three wins in the promotion, all by submission. The former two came while competing as a lightweight. Wisely (19-8) drops his UFC debut.
Johnson shows improvements, decisions Roller
Using a distinct speed advantage, Johnson landed multiple combinations in the first two rounds and, perhaps more impressively, defended every takedown from Roller -- a former collegiate wrestler at Oklahoma State University.
Things got dicey for Johnson in the third, however, when Roller managed to take his back and lock in a body triangle. Roller even appeared headed for a TKO win, but was warned by referee Herb Dean for illegal blows to the back of the head.
Johnson (10-6) went on to recover and eventually swept Roller (10-6) onto his back to finish the fight. After the fight, Johnson admitted he thought of teammate Melvin Guillard's recent loss to Jim Miller during the final round.
"I'm going to tell you the truth," Johnson said. "The only thing going through my mind was Melvin. He's a great teammate and I was not letting this happen in two fights. Sooner or later, [Roller] was going to tire out and I was going to get on top."
Johnson pours it on against Beltran, scores first-round KO
In his first appearance in the UFC, heavyweight Lavar Johnson accomplished something no other fighter ever has -- a knockout win over the durable Joey Beltran.
Johnson wasted no time getting to Beltran, leading with the jab and scoring multiple body shots early in the fight. After walking Beltran to the cage, it was a series of uppercuts that finished the job near the four-minute mark of the first round.
"Those were four nice, good uppercuts," Johnson said. "Usually, I knock people out with just one. He took it. He's a tough guy."
Johnson (16-5) snaps a two-fight losing streak with the impressive performance. For Beltran (13-7), a noticeable cut in his weight couldn't prevent him from a fourth loss in his last five fights.
Camozzi submits Jacoby in third round
A former contestant on "The Ultimate Fighter," Camozzi used a guillotine choke 68 seconds into the final frame to secure the win.
The Colorado-based fighter bounces back from a unanimous decision loss to Francis Carmont at UFC 137 in October. Camozzi is 3-2 all-time in the UFC since making his debut in 2010. Jacoby (6-2) is still in search of his first UFC win, going 0-2 after entering the promotion with a perfect record.
Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.