Former Light Heavyweight Champions Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Rashad Evans meet at UFC this weekend for the dubious honour of getting a chance to lose to current champion Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua.
Don’t let the side show sway you
Rampage is a bad coach, Rampage spent too much time filming The A-Team, Rampage isn’t fully committed to the sport, Rampage…oh who cares? Quinton Jackson has never been the most sane and focussed sportsman, hell they wouldn’t call him Rampage if he was, but none of the side stories involving Jackson should influence the outcome of this weekend’s main event. Jackson had two dire stints coaching on The Ultimate Fighter but just because he gives bad advice doesn’t mean he can’t walk the walk himself. As for The A-Team theory, I wouldn’t put it past him using it as an excuse if he loses but it’s a poor man’s excuse given the time he had to prepare since shooting ended. This fight will be decided based on the type of game both men bring to the octagon, not what they are doing in their personal lives.
Rampage presents the better challenge for Shogun
The bookies have Jackson as a slight favourite but in truth this is a nightmare to call. Jackson possesses a strong wrestling background but it’s his striking where he possesses a clear edge over his opponent. Evans is no slouch and would likely have the upper hand if it comes down to grappling. My view on the winner changes daily, at the moment I’m swinging towards Jackson but the more interesting angle isn’t who will win but rather who would give Shogun more of a challenge. Evans will be outmatched in grappling and Ju-Jitsu against the champion but a victory for Jackson is far more appealing. In raw talent and consistency the edge would have to go to Rua but Jackson has split his two previous encounters with the Brazilian and possesses the ability to pull off the shock upset. In either event I don’t see the champion losing in his first defence but a third fight with Jackson would provide more entertainment.
It’s a pity about Forrest Griffin
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira comes into UFC 114 on a six fight winning streak and was set to face former Light Heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin only for Griffin to pull out with a shoulder injury. The result is a far less attractive under card. His replacement, Jason Brilz, is reasonably accomplished but far from a name fighter and this is by some distance the biggest challenge he will have faced in his career to date.
In the Middleweight division Michael Bisping looks to rehabilitate his career. The former winner of The Ultimate Fighter TV series was beaten by Wanderlei Silva in his last outing. Bisping’s image is still suffering from the humiliation he suffered at the hands of Dan Henderson almost a year ago when he was shown up horribly. In Dan Miller he faces an opponent coming in on the back of two defeats, the latter to recent Middleweight title challenger Demian Maia on points. A victory inside the distance could do wonders for Bisping’s career, defeat would have dire implications for the English fighter’s career.
Further down the card Todd Duffee will hope for a longer fight against Mike Russow than his last outing when he knocked Tim Hague out in just 7 seconds. Neither fighter has taken on serious opposition in their careers to date although the explosive nature of Duffee should make this entertaining if nothing else.
Finally in the Welterweight division unbeaten Englishman John Hathaway puts his 12-0 record on the line against the heavily experienced Diego Sanchez. The American has suffered three defeats in his career but they were to some of the biggest names in the sport in Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, and Josh Kosheck. Hathaway has certainly come a long way in his four year career but it’s hard to see his unbeaten record staying intact after this event.