After what’s been about 15 months of build up, today is the day of the much anticipated battle between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Suga” Rashad Evans. I’m not really one for breaking down fights but I figured why not throw my thoughts out there since everyone else seems to be.
Rashad is the more versatile fighter in terms of his skill set. His boxing is solid, despite commonly using erratic head movement. He mixes up striking with the occasional leg and head kick. We’ve all seen the highlight reel head kick he put poor Sean Salmon to sleep with. His wrestling is his strongest asset in any fight. In his last contest he went to his bread and butter to controlled the fight in the first 2 rounds. Evans has yet to display any submission skills but you would think after several months at Greg Jackson’s camp he should have something to offer on the ground. He’s the quicker of the two fighters, constantly moving in and out, rarely staying in front of his opponent for too long. “Suga” has the tendency to come out of the gates slowly. In 3 of his last 4 fights he’s lost the opening round. The exception was against Thiago Silva but in that fight he gassed in the final round. After being knocked out by Machida and wobbled in his fight against Thiago Silva, Rashad’s chin is looking suspect. Suga Shad better protect that jaw.
Rampage is the stronger, tougher and grittier of the two. I’d give him a slight advantage in terms of pure boxing. He’s very skilled at avoiding and blocking punches then quickly coming back with counters. As proven in his last several fights, if Jackson connects with your chin you’re going down. In each of his 6 UFC fights he’s sent his opponent to the canvas via a big right or left hand. That leads me to believe it’s only a matter of time until he catches Rashad. Quinton’s wrestling gets overlooked. The powerful slams often get praised but Rampage has shown wrestling fundamentals as well. In his career he’s shown an effective sprawl and is extremely hard to put on his back. In a recent interview Jackson said “I’m a fighter and Rashad is an athlete”. This is a very accurate statement. In his tenuous career Quinton has always showed willingness to scrap with an opponent no matter how bad of a beating he’s taken. He’s only been knocked out once in his career and that was after receiving an INSANE amount of punishment from Wanderlei Silva that would have permanently injured most men. The biggest question for Rampage coming into this fight is his condition. He hasn’t fought since last March and he’s been too busy filming the A-Team to focus on training. He began his training camp for this fight weighing in at a large 251 lbs. Since then he’s trimmed down considerably and is walking around at about 220 lbs. He’s stated that he hates training but apparently his disdain for Rashad has motivated him to go harder then ever before. Jackson has never had an issue with gassing but the long lay off and early adrenaline drop after entering the octagon may take a toll
Ways to win for each:
For Evans he’d be wise to be patient and pick his shots. His teammate Keith Jardine was the last to fight Jackson so I’m sure he’ll implement some of his strategy of using leg kicks and changing levels. He can win rounds with accurate but selective strikes. If things don’t go his way striking he may want to consider putting Jackson against the cage and scoring with dirty boxing and knees to the legs and body. I highly doubt he’ll be able to finish Jackson so he should fight a smart fight on his way to a decision victory.
Rampage’s keys to victory are counter punching and slams. As I mention above he’s great and dodging and rolling off punches. If Rashad is slow to move after striking he’ll have the perfect chance to catch him. Standing in front of Evans and exchanging would very much work in his favor. Jackson should also get control of Rashad by pressing him against the cage and taking him down. When “Suga” attempts to improve his position or look for escapes he’ll have the opportunity to pick him up and hit one of those famous slams. That’s really one of the things we’ve been missing so far with this UFC version of Rampage.
So now you’re probably expecting me to pick a winner . . . fine. I’ll say Rampage by 2nd round (T)KO. I figure by the 2nd the rust will have worn off and he’ll get comfortable and catch on to Evans’ timing. I’ll even get specific and say he wins with a counter left hook and grounds and pounds him out.
Following this fight and the recent victory by Shogun at UFC 113, the Light Heavyweight division is coming together nicely with some potential match ups over the next several months. The winner of Rampage/Rashad will get a title shot at the end of 2010. Here’s who we have right now as contenders in the division:
Champion – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
These are the names I’ve come up with off the top of my head. Machida will be given a fight against a worthy contender with the winner to get a title shot. I’m thinking if Noguiera wins his fight on Saturday, Machida could be next in line for him. Jon Jones is everyone’s favorite prospect. If he wins his next fight against Vladimir Matyushenko he’ll be in line to face a top challenger in the division. I’d like to see him fight Forrest Griffin but at this point I’m not sure what that will do for him in terms of moving up the ladder. Forrest is on the shelf with a shoulder injury until early fall. Liddell and Franklin are fighting in June in a bout that means nothing. If Chuck wins that just means he was fortunate enough to face an opponent who couldn’t knock him out. If he loses he’s without question done fight. Rich Franklin is only a name now and irrelevant no matter what division he fights in. I like Rich but buddy is on his way out. Tito Ortiz is done. I’m not sure if he realizes it yet but he’s done. Keith Jardine is lucky to still have a job in the UFC. If he loses his upcoming fight against Ryan Bader he’ll be shown the door. Thiago Silva will fight Tim Boetsch at 117. I’d say Thiago needs at least 2 wins to get his name mentioned as a #1 contender. Luis Cane is fighting Cyrille Diabate on Saturday. He needs a win here and a few more to get to the upper level of light heavyweights. The wild card here is Anderson Silva. He’s 2-0 fighting at light heavyweight and has looked like a complete destroyer finishing each fight impressively in the first round. Currently there are plans to have him defend his belt twice more at middleweight before moving up. That’s an awful idea. After he beats Chael Sonnen in August he should immediately go up in weight. Who the hell wants to see him fight Vitor Belfort?!? Not me, not anyone. Give him a fight at 205 and if he wins he should get the first crack at the title in 2011. Book it!!!
This show did not disappoint. Just about every match delivered in terms of excitement and the one that wasn’t spectacular from bell to bell was more then entertaining post-fight.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua challenged Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida for the UFC Light Heavyweight strap in the main event. For all of the 3 minutes it lasted this fight looked much different then their previous encounter. Both men were much more aggressive coming out. Machida was moving forward in order to score a few takedowns while Shogun rushed towards his opponent with a flurry of punches. After landing a good knee to the body, Lyoto attempted to attack again but was clocked with a counter right hook which sent him tumbling to the canvas. Rua quickly got the full mount and finished off the champ leaving him unconscious. Just like that in 3 and a half minutes Rua eliminated any doubt as to who the true champ was. This man couldn’t have been any happier or prouder to be holding the belt. In broken English he thanked everyone, wished all the mothers “happy mom’s day”, and hoisted the title high. Cheer this man!
Paul Daley vs Josh Koscheck
Ever since this fight was announced these 2 men have been going back and forth with the trash talking. I think things all started with Daley asking people to send him photo shopped pictures of Koscheck with crazy hair. Apparently he has fans with a lot of times on his their hands because several people met his request. All the weeks of trash talk were more entertaining then the action in the fight. Each of the 3 rounds consisted of Kos getting a takedown, out grappling the Brit (since they can’t wrestling worth a sh*t), then repeating this. Despite not doing anything extraordinary during this match up Josh was a tremendous performer. In the first round Daley threw an illegal knee to the grounded Koscheck. Although it didn’t appear to make contact Kos sold it like a Hulk Hogan big boot. He dramatically flopped backwards, flailing both hands in the air then grasping his face. When the crowd saw this they booed this man vociferously. Little did they know the best was yet to come. As the fight came to an end, while in dominant position Koscheck started whispering sweet nothings in Daley’s ear. When the bell rang ending the fight Kos heading for his corner but Paul had other plans. He headed right for this opponent and decked him with a left hook. Easily the cleanest punch he landed all night. Kos no-sold the sucker punch and walked off. Ref Dan Miragliotta restrained Daley and gave him a tongue lashing. Josh won the fight 30-27 on all scorecards. Joe Rogan came into get an interview with the winner and asked a few questions. Instead of responding to the questions raised he had a few other things he wanted to say. Take a look here.
Koscheck totally understands his role, embraces it, and for that he is the best personality in MMA. This guy is a heel (bad guy) to the fullest extent. He comes in and fakes an injury, has a boring fight, then bad mouths the local sports team and hero GSP. Kudos to you Mr. Koscheck. You’re a great man and I look forward to 12 episodes of you gracing my television on TUF 12. His fight with St. Pierre is going to be HUGE. If somehow they can do it in Toronto they’ll break all kinds of records.
As for Mr. Daley, for his sucker punch and poor explanation to Dana that “he didn’t know the fight was over”, he was fired and barred from the UFC forever. Sucks for him. He might want to pursue a new line of work.
Kimbo Slice vs Matt Mitrione
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one. Long story short, Kimbo isn’t a UFC caliber fighter. Mitrione is only slightly better. Kimbo got a couple of takedowns, Mitrione tried a few submissions. In the 2nd Matt started going to work with low kicks that appeared to be taking life out of Slice every time they landed. Mitrione got on top and kept punching away until the ref stepped in. Following the fight it was announced that Kimbo had been cut. Despite his lack of skills I’m sure he earned a lot of people’s respect.
Alan Belcher and Patrick Cote started off the PPV with one hell of a scrap. The crowed loved their hometown boy Cote. He came in after an 18 month lay off because of a knee injury suffered in his title fight against Anderson Silva. In the first round these 2 threw punches, kicks, went for takedowns, looked for submissions, and pretty much everything else you can think of. In the 2nd round we saw quite possibly my favorite finishing sequence in MMA history. Along the cage Cote shot in for a takedown but was stuffed. While he was still bent over with his head down, Belcher leaned over and wrapped his arms around Patrick’s waist. Only one thing came into my mind at this point and Belcher shared that thought. He powerfully hoisted Cote in the air and delivered a piledriver that Paul Ordoff, Terry Funk, and Jerry Lawler would have all been proud of. Take a look here. From there he took the back of a stunned Cote and locked in a rear naked choke for the tap out. After the fight Alan said he was ready for Anderson Silva. Belcher would be embarrassed and/or destroyed in that fight. All depends on how Silva’s feeling on that night.
Here are the rest of the results from the show:
Jeremy Stephens defeated Sam Stout via split decision (30–27, 29–28, 28–29)
Joe Doerksen defeated Tom Lawlor via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:10 of round 2
Marcus Davis defeated Jonathan Goulet via TKO (punches) at 1:23 of round 2
Johny Hendricks defeated TJ Grant via majority decision (29–27, 29–27, 28–28)
Joey Beltran defeated Tim Hague via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–26, 29–28)
Mike Guymon defeated Yoshiyuki Yoshida via unanimous decision (30–27, 30–27, 30–27)
John Salter defeated Jason MacDonald via TKO (injury) at 2:42 of round 1
I’m out. Enjoy the fights.
2nd Round Submission:
Jeremy Horn armbar on Chael Sonnen
Actually before I wrap things up. There’s nothing on tv right now and I’m currently watching the movie “Fighting” with Channing Tatum. This is quite possibly the worst film I’ve ever seen. Do not watch this film. It’s not about fighting it’s about stupidity. I’m sure Tatum is a great guy but sweet lord is he a horrendous actor. Pretty much everyone in the movie is. It received one star from critics but that rating is far too high. I’d award this film a rating of – 5 stars and hope it’s never shown again.
About the Author
Written by Martin Foster
Martin H. Foster is the author of "The 2nd Round Submission" and host of "Verbal Submission Radio" Follow him at www.twitter.com/MHMFoster