Rampage Jackson: What's Next after Loss to Rashad Evans?

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Rampage Jackson: What's Next after Loss to Rashad Evans?
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Rampage vs. Rashad was a fight that die hard and even the most casual MMA fans had been eagerly anticipating for months.

A fight that was originally supposed to take place at UFC 107 in Jackson's hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, but had to be pushed back to allow Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to film his role as B.A. Baracus in the upcoming A-Team movie. 

When Quinton "Rampage" Jackson entered the Octagon for his fight against Rashad Evans at UFC 114, many at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas cheered him on. In this epic battle of two men who have one the most intense rivalries in all of sport, it was clear that Rampage was the fan favorite.

After months of hype, after all the introductions were through, and once referee Herb Dean gave the fighters their pre-fight instructions, it was finally time to do battle.

Both fighters came out of their corners looking hesitant, not wanting to give the other anything to work with.

Evans would deal the first blow, connecting with a hard right hand that sent Rampage reeling towards the cage where Evans leaned on Jackson and wore him out. That punch and the following chain of events would seemingly dictate how the rest of the fight went.

When Evans wasn't wearing down Rampage up against the cage, he was taking him down to the mat and controlling the ground game. Evans was also elusive, standing up with Muhammad Ali- and Anderson Silva-like footwork and speed. Each time Rampage tried to deliver one of his trademark knockout punches, Evans would dart out of the way.

After two rounds of domination by Evans, Rampage did deliver a vicious punch to Rashad's head which knocked him down and had him bleeding from the nose. Jackson tried to capitalize by getting on top of him and going for the ground and pound win. Evans was able to protect himself and get up off the mat.

Evans looked wobbly after that onslaught and it looked like at any moment Rampage would swoop in and deliver the knockout punch. Despite the urging from his corner to put pressure on Evans, Jackson stood back and allowed Evans to recompose himself and get back his impressive speed.

The fight would end with each fighter taking wild punches before the final horn sounded. The fight was left up to the judges where they handed "Suga" Rashad Evans the unanimous decision win.

It was a convincing victory for Rashad Evans, who now goes on to fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the UFC light heavyweight title.

As for what's next for Rampage Jackson, in a postfight interview with Joe Rogan inside the octagon, Jackson said he hoped to continue the rivalry with Evans in a rematch. That seems a long way off however due to Evans' title fight with Rua.

When asked at the post-UFC 114 press conference if Rampage vs. Rashad II was going to happen, UFC President Dana White said he wouldn't rule it out but would wait and see.

"I think anything can happen. It depends on what paths they take from here on out... We'll see who Rampage fights and we'll take it from there. These are two of the best light heavyweights in the world and we'll see what happens."

So what is next for Rampage?

With The A-Team slated to be released on June 11, Rampage Jackson will be preoccupied with promoting the film. After that, who does he fight next?

A possible opponent for Rampage could be Lyoto Machida, with the winner getting a title shot at the winner of Rua vs. Evans. With a light heavyweight fight between Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin scheduled for UFC 115 in Vancouver in two weeks, it is possible that Rampage could take on the winner of that fight instead.

Rampage Jackson was asked at the postfight press conference if there was a person that he specifically wants to fight. Jackson said he had not set his sights on anyone as of yet.

"I don't care right now. I haven't thought about it."

Jackson expressed that ring rust was in issue in his fight with Evans, meaning an important factor in Rampage's next fight in the octagon will be time. 

"I kept trying to block out ring rust because I knew it would be a factor. But tonight I felt it, I felt it bad," Rampage said. "I'd like to get back in there as soon as possible. I didn't like the way I felt, how I hesitated. This fight is going to haunt me."

Of the possible opponents of Machida, Franklin, and Liddell, the only fighter that Jackson has previous experience with is The Iceman. Rampage has taken on Chuck Liddell twice, having won both times via TKO.

 

For up-to-the-minute UFC news, stats, and updates 24/7, be sure to follow Ken Beckett on Twitter @KenBeckett

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