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UFC 114 Preview: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Rashad Evans Set to Settle Feud in Monumental Showdown

Rampage_vs_evans_mediumThe main event at UFC 114 has been a match-up in the making since June of 2009 when the UFC decided to pit PRIDE veteran Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (30-7, 5-1 UFC) against UFC-bred Ultimate Figher season two winner Rashad Evans (14-1-1, 9-1-1 UFC) in not only the coaching roles of The Ultimate Fighter season ten, but in the cage as well. The feud between the two fighters has not only created the first major UFC event to be headlined by two African-American competitors, but it's also created a highly-anticipated match-up in which scores will be settled and the outcome will surely produce another pivotal bout in the UFC's light heavyweight division.

The source of the hatred between Evans and Jackson has been somewhat muddled in interviews by both fighters, but the coaching stint on The Ultimate Fighter created enough reasons on top of each fighter's primary source of frustration with one another. Jackson was hugely criticized for his handling of his team during the show by Rashad, and Jackson has stated on numerous occasions that Evans is "fake" and needs to be silenced. Even the conference call in the lead-up to this event provided fans with more drama as Jackson and Evans squared off in verbal warfare.

Interestingly enough, this battle not only has the stylistic intricacies that make it interesting for all fans, but the fighters' backgrounds give this bout a tale of the brash, immature, rags to riches combatant versus the sophisticated, articulate company man. Born in Memphis, Jackson was raised in some of the worst parts of the city, but it may have ultimately been what led to his success as a fighter as he battled the streets day in and day out. Evans was raised in a less volatile environment in Niagara Falls, New York, becoming a National Junior College wrestling champion, wrestling at Michigan State for three years, and graduated with a degree in Psychology. Their childhoods could not be further apart, and it's apparent in their personalities today.

These differences have been a major part of the verbal exchanges both fighters have had with one another. Evans had accused Jackson of "perpetuating negative stereotypes with his public persona" to which Jackson replied that Evans is "being gay" during their UFC 114 conference call. Jackson's juvenile trash talk and Evans' educated arguments against Jackson haven't worked out well for Evans' in the eye of the casual fan, but it really doesn't matter as both men will settle the score in the cage on Saturday. It has, however, provided the foundation to a truly monumental event for the UFC.

Stylistically, this could be a very tight match-up. It really depends on how well Rampage has trained for this fight, how well he can handle Rashad's wrestling, and whether his layoff will affect his form in the cage. Rashad still needs to answer some questions as well as he really hasn't been a formidable force in the wrestling department against even mid-level competition. His hands have definitely improved, but Jackson has made a career on being a surprisingly accurate puncher with immense power and a solid chin.


While many fans are quick to point out Evans as the easy pick in this fight due to his wrestling, there isn't much evidence to support Evans being the positionally dominant fighter that people expect him to be in this match-up. Thiago Silva hadn't faced any wrestlers in his career until Evans, and Evans was easily able to take him down as Silva swung for the fence. Wrestling wasn't even a thought in the Machida fight, nor was any other offense for that matter. Griffin was very effective in using leg kicks to batter Evans, and an unfortunate slip on the mat secured the fight for Evans in the third round after he pummeled a downed Griffin with blows from the top.

Jackson's record isn't littered with NCAA wrestlers, but he did manage to narrowly defeat Matt Lindland, a fight that some feel Lindland won, and he did very well against former Olympian Dan Henderson. Wrestling hasn't been a proven weakness for Jackson, and the weaknesses we have seen aren't specialties that Evans brings to the table.

Ring rust will be a disadvantage though, and it could affect how he fights on Saturday night. Fortunately, it looks like TUF alum Mike Dolce has found his calling in training fighters as Jackson looks to be in phenomenal shape for this fight.

This is a tough pick for me personally. I've been burned by the hype surrounding Jackson's opponents in the past, and he managed to embarrass a lot of the media's predictions in the past with great performances. I think Evans is probably going to try to put Jackson on his back quite a bit as the fight progresses, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Evans try to exchange on the feet with Jackson initially. I think Evans is the pick here in a three-round fight as he has more tools, but I'm going to pick Jackson here mostly due to the fact that I've analyzed this same outcome only to be proven wrong.

A victory for Jackson sets up another blockbuster battle for the UFC in a rematch between Jackson and current champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua from back in their days in PRIDE. Ideally, this is what Dana White and company will probably want more, but Evans could play the role of spoiler. If Evans happens to win, there will be some interesting shuffling at the top for Joe Silva.

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