The victory in UFC 96 by Rampage Jackson now sets up one the most anticipated match-ups the year. On May 23, he will face "Sugar" Rashad Evans for the Light Heavyweight Championship belt. The advantage is with Rampage.
Jardine's attempt to be an opponent was quite insulting if it wasn't for having a thick enough noggin absorb the cannon fire from Rampage's gun show.
Kicking is not a great strategy unless you truly connect, as in Matt Hamill's version earlier in the night against Mark Munoz.
Rampage was in such a state of focus in terms of reflexes that he grabbed one of Jardines' kicks and slapped one of his punches out of the way. It seemed that Rampage figured out the Jardine battle plan and just sat back and waited.
It is a change from his former strategy which was "shoot first ask questions later." Rampage now practices a patience that reflects on his training in England with Wolfslair. He kept his fists close to his chest while Jardine was herky-jerky.
Rampage was not perfect in the bout as did take some punches and got backed up against the cage; however, he didn't get panicked.
He made the right decisions when to punch and when to back off to achieve the end result of setting up Jardine for a barrage at the end to seal the victory.
Rashad Evans, who is not shy for the cameras, played guest commentator as his training partner got pummeled. After the fight, he walked into the ring to take over the post-fight interview. What did that really accomplish?
Rashard may feel because he has the belt means something, however he has not fought in months whereas Rampage is loose.
Rashard has done a great deal of trash talk at UFC 96 as well in his previous matches whereas Rampage has shown a change in tact which lead to his recent KO of Wanderlei Silva and this endurance victory over Jardine.
Rashard's cocky behavior is showing more and more in his fights. He may being doing this partly to get under his opponents' skin, however the tact will waste a great deal of time with Rampage.
Now that Rampage proved he can win a distance fight, he will not fall for the trap. He will instead make his decisions to attack more on strategy and less on the emotion of the moment.
May 23 cannot come soon enough even with the moving ahead of one hour to save the daylight.
Rampage wants his belt back and there is nothing Rashard Evans can do to stop him. Rampage will be wearing more than his chains after the that bout is over.