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UFC 114 Preview – Rashad Evans Vs. Rampage Jackson

We have been following this one closely and for good reason. It’s a super grudge match that we’ve been waiting six months for. The UFC is fully behind it and thus, we’ve added a lot on our end too. We’ve recapped every UFC Primetime episode and have added the now infamous conference call as well.

And now our preview.

The FGB crew, along with Stevie J from Angry Marks and friend of FGB JP, are here with predictions for the main event.

Rashad Evans vs. Rampage Jackson

Duan: Evans by unanimous decision
Alan: Evans by unanimous decision
Big D: Jackson by 2nd round TKO
Stevie J: Evans by unanimous decision
JP: Jackson by 2nd round TKO
Cactus Jim: Evans by unanimous decision
GG: Evans by unanimous decision

Duan says:

I’m not convinced that Rampage’s mind is on fighting right now. And even if it was, I still wouldn’t pick him to beat Rashad. This is a guy who struggled wildly with Keith Jardine, and got completely dissected by Forrest Griffin. I have always had the same one criticism of Jackson; and it concerns his movement. He’s flat footed and plodding. I think he struggles with guys who can utilize distance well, and that is where I think Rashad will have his number. This is going to be a boxing match, and technically Evans will be superior. Rampage does have the power to change the fight with one single shot, but I’m banking that he doesn’t find that shot.

Alan says:

Pretty much the same as Duan for me. The only two differences are that I’m a little warier of the Rampage KO power, and that I think Rashad will mix some wrestling into it as well as out-boxing him for 3 rounds.

Big D says:

It could just be the massive growth of the sport in the past five years, but to me, this is the biggest grudge match in the history of the UFC, even moreso than Ortiz vs. Shamrock. There is little doubt in my mind that Quinton Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans don’t despise each other. Take it from somebody who knows – when you feel that somebody has wronged you and you want to make things right, it gives you that extra motivation and drive to be that much better.

Before today, I was relatively confident that Rashad would win this fight. He’s surrounded himself with the best fighters as training partners, he’s got a near-flawless record, he’s been fighting consistently without taking breaks, and hes got a track record. Rampage has been out making movies. I wasn’t sure exactly how Rashad would win but I feared a boring lay-n-pray. Rampage’s wrestling is top notch, so I knew it’d be hard, but I expected it to go down that way.

Lately, after the comments Rashad has made and after watching the three countdown specials, reading the Observer, hearing about the insanity at the press conferences, and watching the bonus clips online, I’m not so sure it’s a guaranteed win for Rashad anymore. Rashad has gotten under the skin of Rampage, and while I was the first to write Rampage off a few months ago on an episode of FGB Radio, but I’ve never seen Rampage this focused, this determined, this full of rage – including his days in PRIDE FC. If he can control himself, be a professional, and turn that rage into calculated power at the right time, Rashad could be wearing his very own snuggie.

Stevie J says:

Against my better instincts, and against what I actually want to see, I’m picking Rashad Evans by unanimous decision. I don’t think he has enough power to stop Rampage (he has SOME but generally that’s the exception not the rule in his matches) and I know Rampage has enough to stop him, but it comes down to who has been training full time and who took time off to do a movie. If the situation were totally even Rampage would probably have enough cardio for three rounds, would be the stronger of the two, and could nullify all of Rashad’s takedowns. Rashad should just count himself lucky that he’s getting the right Rampage at the right time because I think 7 out of 10 times Rampage would win this fight if he was in full-time Octagon ring shape – and I get the distinct feeling from interviews he doesn’t even want to be any more. Maybe that’s just a subtle sell to make Rashad take him too lightly, but I’ve had the feeling his heart wasn’t in UFC any more even before he went to do A-Team, and if any UFC star has enough charisma to make a Rock-like Hollywood jump it’s him.

JP says:

From watching all three episodes of the Primetime series, it is evident that Rampage is taking this match seriously and looks to be in good shape. If Evans doesn’t have the fitness edge over Rampage, he loses just about his only chance at winning this. I just don’t think there is an area of the game that Evans has a distinct advantage over Jackson. Rampage’s boxing is superior, he is more powerful, and has the wrestling pedigree to stuff Rashad’s takedown attempts. I am looking for Jackson to put Evans on the mat with a big hook in the second and add a few extra punches like he did against Wanderlei.

Cactus Jim says:

This is a tough fight for me to pick. Both guys are coming in with what appears to be a genuine dislike for each other, not just a promotional feud to generate interest in the fight. Rampage hasn’t fought in 14 months, has filmed and is promoting a movie, and basically said that he wasn’t interested in fighting anymore. Evans on the other hand fought 4 months ago, is constantly training with world class fighters, has guys in his camp that have been in the cage with Jackson, and is looking to regain a title and keep his fighting career moving forward.

Rampage has the better power and a good takedown defense. Rashad’s takedowns are better, but his power isn’t on par with Quinton’s power. Both have suffered from poor cardio in the past. Given Jackson’s extended layoff and his desire to move beyond fighting, I’m thinking Evans will have the training and cardio edge this time out.

Rampage has to keep this fight standing, utilize the clinch and his size to his advantage, and look to wear Evans down and land that big right hand. Rashad is going to need to keep his hands up, not tire himself out trying to muscle Rampage around, and pick his punches as well as his takedown shots wisely. If Evans gets sloppy even for a second, Jackson, despite all his potential shortcomings, has got the power to put Evans on the canvas and take the victory. Under normal circumstances I’d say that Rampage has too much power and too good a takedown defense to be beaten by Rashad. However, circumstances being what they are, I think this fight is going to come down to conditioning. Evans won’t be able to take Quinton out, but he should be able to batter him in rounds 2 and 3.

GG says:

My big worry is that this fight is going to be really boring. If Rashad is too fast for Rampage, he can just use his quick feet and keep his distance from Rampage while peppering shots. The best case scenario for this fight being good is that Rampage is in good enough shape to close the distance, press Rashad, and put him on his bike. I’m not sure if he’s going to be able to do that for three rounds though. If he can, we’re in for a good one. But I have a feeling that by round three, both guys will be worn down and won’t want to engage in a slug fest and thus, it will be who is in better shape who wins a decision. And I think that will be Rashad.

There you have it. Five of us think Rashad wins by decision and two think Rampage wins by knockout.

We’ll be back Saturday with our play by play of the event. I’ll be there live and have information about the entire event, including the prelims.

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