Bader (20-4) recorded his fifth consecutive win in the UFC 192 co-main event inside Toyota Center by unanimously out-pointing Evans (19-4-1) on the scorecards. All three judges scored it a sweep for Bader 30-27.
It's a nice win for Bader, though it wasn't the matchup he was expecting earlier this year. When Daniel Cormier won the 205-pound championship by submitting Anthony Johnson in May, Bader seemed to be an obvious choice to challenge him next. A previously scheduled fight between the two had fallen through, and Bader had the most impressive win streak of any other contender by far.
It was a little surprising when the UFC awarded the title shot to Alexander Gustafsson, who was coming off a first-round knockout loss to Johnson in January.
Any disappointment in getting overlooked failed to show in Bader's performance Saturday. He utilized the entire space of the Octagon and constantly circled away from the 36-year-old Evans, who was making his first appearance since November 2013 due to injury. He caused swelling over both Evans' eyes with the jab and scored a couple strong, well-timed takedowns in the second and third rounds.
"People keep doubting me and calling me the 'easiest fight in the division,' but I keep running through them," Bader said. "My mentality is different. I decided I wanted to be the champion of this sport, and that's what's driving me.
"I was usually just focusing on boxing, but I've been working on being more agile on the feet and getting better. I'm hitting my stride and getting better and better. Rashad was calling me an easy fight, and no disrespect to him, but I got through him. DC was calling me out, so I'm ready for him."
According to cageside stats by Fightmetric, Bader outlanded Evans in total strikes 55-27. He never appeared close to finishing the bout, but he snapped Evans' head back on several occasions with the right uppercut.
Evans, who fights out of Boca Raton, Florida, continued to come forward on Bader throughout. He punched his way to the inside on his taller opponent and tried to land shots along the fence. Bader's athleticism proved to be an advantage, however, and other than a handful of overhand rights, Evans struggled to string offense together. He looked tired in the third and became an easy target for Bader's quick jab.
"I was a little slow, and my timing was off," Evans said. "I was never hurt by anything he threw, but I couldn't get the range down, and my timing was bugging me a bit. I didn't continue to hunt after him, and I missed it. I didn't capitalize on the pressure I was putting on him. I'm going back in the gym -- that what I miss is the gym. Doing it over and over, getting my reps in. I have to get back to training now that I have confidence in my knee, and I know I can push it. I'll be back in the gym and better the next time."
Magomedov takes unanimous decision
Magomedov (14-1), who spent time at American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, landed 90 total strikes compared to 42 for Jordan. He circled away from Jordan's power and landed short shots all night, as he collected scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28. It his ninth win in a row, eight of which have gone the distance.
Jordan (18-7) stalked Magomedov around the cage and sporadically bull-rushed him along the way. He managed to wrestle him down once in the first round, but other than that, his grappling was essentially neutralized. In the second round, he might have gotten poked in the eye. Magomedov hit him with several clean punches before actually stopping to ask Jordan if he was good. Jordan nodded, and the fight continued.
"It was a great fight. This is my dream come true," Magomedov said after the win. "Of course, training with DC [Daniel Cormier] and Cain [Velasquez], they're the best in the world, and they've really helped me become a complete mixed martial artist. I want whatever gets me to the title. I know Cain will get his belt back. He's my friend, so I will fight anyone but Cain."
The loss snaps a three-fight win streak for Jordan.
Benavidez edges Bagautinov in chess match
Benavidez (23-4) relied heavily on body kicks to track down the elusive Bagautinov (13-4), who is one of the most purest counter-strikers in the sport. The Houston crowd booed the lack of action, which saw just 74 strikes landed between both fighters. In a postfight interview, Benavidez pointed to Bagautinov's style as the main culprit.
"The guy is tough, and it's like running into a mountain," Benavidez said. "I came in here and beat a world-class guy. This isn't as exciting of a fight that people are used to."
In his first appearance since serving a one-year suspension for a failed drug test, Bagautinov looked good at times against one of the most elite fighters in the division, but his lack of offense made it difficult for him to win rounds. He opened a cut over Benavidez's left eye in the first round, but it never appeared to bother the Sacramento-based fighter. He also slammed Benavidez to the floor in the second round but couldn't maintain top position.
Pena wins third fight in a row, calls out Rousey
Pena (7-2) utilized her grappling advantage over Eye (11-4) and took the fight to the ground in all three rounds. She threatened to tap Eye several times, including a deep rear-naked choke in the third round. Eye was penalized one point in the second round for throwing an illegal knee to Pena's face from off her back, which referee Frank Collazo deemed intentional. Judges scored it unanimously for Pena, 29-27.
After the result, Pena, winner of TUF 18, called for a championship fight against Ronda Rousey (12-0) and said she'd be the titleholder's "huckleberry." Pena is 3-0 in the UFC, with wins against Eye, Milana Dudieva and Jessica Rakoczy.
• Featherweight Yair Rodriguez (6-1), originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, and now fighting out of Chicago, defeated Daniel Hooker (12-6) via unanimous decision: 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26. Rodriguez broke his right foot during the fight but dominated en route to his third win in the Octagon.
• Welterweight Albert Tumenov (16-2) knocked out Alan Jouban (12-4) at 2:55 of the first round by hurting him with a high head kick and a following straight left. Tumenov, 23, has 11 career knockouts.
• Lightweight Adriano Martins (28-7) starched Dagestan prospect Islam Makhachev (12-1) with a counter right hook at 1:47 of the first round. Martins runs his current win streak to three, including two first-round knockouts.
• Lightweight newcomer Sage Northcutt (6-0) knocked out Francisco Trevino (12-2) in under one minute. The 19-year-old mega prospect, fighting out of Katy, Texas, finished Trevino with elbows on the ground at the 57-second mark.
• Flyweight Sergio Pettis (13-2) out-pointed former title contender Chris Cariaso (17-8), 29-27, 29-27 and 29-28. The younger brother of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, Sergio earns his fourth UFC win.