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Gambling Spotlight: UFC 114

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Quinton Jackson

#4 Light Heavyweight
Former UFC LHW Champ


Rashad Evans

#3 Light Heavyweight
Former UFC LHW CHamp

-110 (5Dimes) Best Line EVEN (5Dimes)
31 Age 30
6'1" Height 5'11"
30 - 7 - 0 Record 14 - 1 - 1
14 / 7 TKO / SUB 5 / 2
Wolfslair MMA Academy Camp Jackson's Submission Fighting
W - Jardine (UD)
W - W Silva (KO)
L - Griffin (UD)

Last 3
W - T Silva (UD)
L - Machida (KO)
W - Griffin (TKO)

This line's been all over the place. Rampage opened around -150, climbed a bit, and then steadily fell. He hit a plus number this week over concerns about his conditioning. The consensus now has Rampage back as a small favorite.

Rashad will have a very difficult path to finishing Jackson. Yes, he has shown finishing power in the past, but I see two big problems for him. First, Rampage, who has very good defense, won't leave the same openings as Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, or Sean Salmon. Second, Rashad's striking is not good. He lunges forward, swinging lame arm punches. He knocked out Chuck Liddell because he planted his feet and launched from the pocket, but that's the exception to the rule with him.

In addition, Rashad's footwork continues to make me want to vomit. I won't get into it (as I've harped on this since the Machida fight), but go back to round two of the Thiago Silva fight at UFC 108. Ten seconds into the round, Rashad crosses his feet moving laterally. Gag.

In my opinion, an in-shape, in-form Quinton Jackson steamrolls Rashad Evans. If the weigh-ins are any indication, Quinton looks to be in shape. Whether or not Quinton's layoff will affect him won't be known until tomorrow night. And the brief "Primetime" footage doesn't help either.

(The next bit was written before today's weigh-ins, but still applies.)

I don't know where Rampage's conditioning is, and I'm not about to pretend like I do. I do know he was smoking cigarettes during his layoff. I know he weighed 250 pounds when he started camp. I know he looks huge in video and photos. I know I've seen Rampage go hard for five rounds on two separate occasions within the last couple of years. And I know that it's not outrageous for a combat athlete to balloon in between fights and still compete at a high level. (We're looking at you, Ricky.)

The two other big factors in this fight will be Rashad's wrestling and size. Rampage is difficult to takedown, though as Luke Thomas pointed out to me, his double leg defense is better than his single leg defense (Quinton powers out of double legs with his strength, single legs typically rely more on balance). In addition, Rashad doesn't have a smother top game. You may point out that Forrest Griffin kept Rampage grounded in round two at UFC 86, but I would argue 1) Forrest has much better top control and 2) Quinton was fighting on one leg at that point.

At fight time, Jackson should dwarf Evans in the cage. Rashad looked small fighting Lyoto Machida, who's not a huge LHW himself. He looked absolutely dwarfish when he beat Chuck Liddell at UFC 88.

So what does Rashad need to do to win this fight? I think he'll have to fight a high-pace, high-volume style, similar to what Forrest did at UFC 86. My issue with this, and a big reason I like Quinton so much in this fight, is that Rashad's never fought that kind of style successfully. He's, self-admittedly, given up rounds to both Liddell and Griffin. And in his fight with Thiago Silva, where he went back to his wrestling and wore down the Brazilian, he still fought fairly methodically before slowing down in the final period.

MMA favors those who can finish the fight. I don't see Rashad finishing this fight. Rampage is too big, too strong, and too defensively sound. Not only can Quinton turn off Rashad's lights, but he isn't going to be in bad shape if he can't finish either because I don't see Rashad running a wrestling clinic on him either. I like Quinton Jackson for a big 2-3u play.

SBN coverage of UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans

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