This war of words will finally come to blows inside the Octagon as the Pride veteran Rampage takes on “The Ultimate Fighter” (TUF) season two winner Evans, finally ending the feud. This fight has some major significance as it is the first ever UFC event headlined by two African-American fighters but also will help to shape the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
It has been very apparent these men dislike each other to put it mildly. During their time on TUF Evens criticized Rampage for the way he handled his team even going so far as to say he quit on them. Jackson has called Rashad “fake” and said that he needs to be “shut up.” The tension between the two got even deeper during the conference-call for this event.
Rashad Evans said that Jackson was “perpetuating negative stereotypes with his public persona” while Quinton Jackson fired back saying Evans was “being gay”. As you can see from their verbal jabs, these men could not be more different.
Rashad grew up in a nice neighborhood in upstate New York where he was a National Junior College wrestling champion before moving on to wrestle at Michigan State where he graduated with a degree in Psychology. In contrast, Rampage grew up in some of the most downtrodden parts of the city fighting the the lure of the streets every day on his way to a rags to riches story.
Stylistically this fight is a very tight affair with Rashad having the perceived edge in wrestling and Jackson the edge in striking. May fans that I have talked to seem to believe that the wrestling Rashad brings to the Octagon will be the determining factor in this fight. However one must realize that Rampage Jackson has done very well against wrestlers he has faced. He did very well against Olympic wrestler “Hendo” Dan Henderson (25-8) and beat another in a controversial decision when he faced “The Law” Matt Lindland (22-7).
I feel the biggest factor in this fight will be Rampage and the log layoff he has had due to filming the movie “A-Team”. Ring rust has always been a major factor in fights and he will have to have had an amazing training camp to not gas out in this fight.
That being said, Rampage will look to exploit the major weakness in Rashad, his chin. Rampage has very accurate and powerful strikes with a solid chin. I would not be shocked at some point in the beginning if we saw Rashad try and stand with Rampage.
If this fight goes three rounds I think Rashad takes the decision but my gut tells me to expect a Rampage knock out of Rashad Evans in the first or second round.
I think Dana White would be happy with a Rampage win as it sets up a re-match from the Pride days between Rampage and the current UFC light heavyweight champion, “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (19-4). That fight would be an easy sell for the UFC as they would be able to use the footage from the earlier fight to push this one.
Who do you think wins this fight and how?