Finally, the time has come for all the talk and hype to come to an end and for Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans to step into the Octagon and settle their differences like men.
The animosity between the two has been building for far too long, and fight fans everywhere have been clamoring for this grudge match for months now.
As if this fight needed another layer of intrigue, UFC President Dana White has stated that the winner of this light-heavyweight clash will be afforded the first opportunity to face newly crowned UFC champion Shogun Rua for the light-heavyweight gold.
My friend and colleague, Joe Schafer, has elected to throw his support behind Evans for this matchup, while I believe that Rampage will be victorious.
So rather than gamble with some form of public humiliation again, we decided to instead take up our arms and throw down within the confines of the famed Bleacher Report arena known as “Creature vs. Creature.”
There’s no question that Rashad Evans is a great athlete, and while his athleticism is a great asset to him in the fight game, Rampage is a fighter, plain and simple.
A lot of people are talking about Rashad’s wrestling and speed being his keys to victory, but oh how everyone forgets that Rampage is no slouch in the wrestling department and that his hand speed is extremely underrated.
If remember correctly, Rampage had no problem whatsoever dealing with the wrestling of Dan Henderson at UFC 75, and Henderson is a former Olympian.
The only problem I can really foresee Rampage having to deal with in this fight is ring rust. It’s been over 14 months since Rampage last stepped foot inside the Octagon, and I’m sure that the time away is going to have an adverse effect on his timing. That said, it’s nothing that he cannot overcome. Once he gets hit again, his instincts will take over, and it will be just like riding a bike.
Look for Rampage to stuff the takedown attempts of Rashad all fight while he is shaking the rust and looking for his range on the feet. Once Rampage finds his rhythm and range in the cage, things are going to get ugly for Rashad.
Rampage is at his best when he fights angry, and Rashad has been getting under his skin for a long time now. I, for one, am expecting to see the best version of Rampage that we have ever seen in the UFC.
When Rampage steps into the cage Saturday night at the MGM Garden Arena, he is going to be throwing everything he has with bad intentions, and it’s not a matter of if but when one of those heavy shots will land and end Rashad’s night.
I see it happening sooner rather than later. Rampage takes this fight and earns himself a rematch with Rua via first round KO.
If you are interested in seeing Joe Schafer’s thoughts on this matchup, take a look at it here.