Fighter's Corner

May 28, 2010 3:55 PM

UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans preview

Well, it's almost here.

UFC light heavyweights Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans, who have had their potential fight delayed not once but twice, have coached 'The Ultimate Fighter' season 10 opposite each other, and have now bickered back and forth for 14 solid months will finally do battle inside the octagon in less than 32 hours.

With the long awaited showdown has come an equal amount of anticipation for what could easily be the penultimate grudge match in MMA history. Certainly it sits alongside those of Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz and Rampage and Wanderlei Silva among others. Alas, no matter which side of the fence you sit, this battle between former UFC light heavyweight champions and top 10 pound-for-pound fighters is an epic one.

And while there are some decent bouts rounding out the rest of the 114 card, make no mistake about it, UFC 114 is all about "Rampage" Jackson taking on Evans.

Jackson, 31, will be returning to the cage, his home, after a 14 month hiatus which saw him as an aforementioned TUF coach and filming a movie (as Mr. T in 'The A-Team'). But now the former champion returns, with a two fight win streak in tow, a new six fight contract, and one huge desire to unleash an ass-whooping like no one has ever seen.

Meanwhile there's Evans, 30, trying to stay relevant in a division that has become increasingly volatile since he beat Forrest Griffin for the championship back at UFC 92 in December of 2008.

If hatred weren't a large enough impetus for victory in this fight then there's the little caveat that the winner will get the first crack at the new 205 lb champion in "Shogun" Rua. Jackson in particular will enjoy that fruit of victory having had a little bit of history with Rua quite a long time ago, in a galaxy far away. He would like nothing better than to exact the revenge he's been seeking desperately.

But first he'll have to get through Evans (19-1-1), a Greg Jackson disciple and former collegiate wrestling standout at Michigan St. Evans has improved greatly since his days on TUF but quite simply does not have the skills that "Rampage" possesses and yet, most importantly, lacks the experience.

A focused, motivated "Rampage" is the most dangerous fighter you can come in contact with in MMA perhaps outside of Anderson Silva. Evans has woken up a monster in "Rampage" and will be sorry come Saturday night when he finally realizes just what that means for him.

Jackson (30-7) will utilize his powerful striking game to stagger Evans and when a wobbly-legged Evans tries desperately for a single-leg takedown, "Rampage" will use his brute strength to pick up his fallen opponent and slam him brutally upon the canvas akin to the legendary slam of Ricardo Arona back in Pride.

In the co-main event, we get struggling middleweights Michael Bisping (19-3) and Dan Miller (11-3) both coming off of consecutive defeats and in need of a win to not only rebound in the division but perhaps keep their UFC careers alive.

Miller in particular has had some recent tragedy in his life in regards to his young children and if you have no real reason to support either fighter coming into this fight, it would be just to root for Miller who will be fighting with a heavy heart and most likely for his future with the UFC.

We will also see Antonio Rogerio Noguiera fighting Jason Brilz, a late replacement for Forrest Griffin who needed shoulder surgery. It's really a no-win situation for "Lil' Nog" fighting a man who is taking a huge step up in competition, will be a huge underdog while still trying to move up the ladder towards a title shot.

Then there's Diego Sanchez (23-3) fighting for the first time since being dominated by BJ Penn back at UFC 107. He'll be taking on undefeated John Hathaway (13-0) in a return to welterweight. It seems like Sanchez can't quite decide which weight is right for him.

And in a heavyweight showdown, phenom Todd Duffee (6-0), owner of the seven second knockout, fights Mike Russow (12-1) and hopefully we'll glean a little bit more about just how good Duffee is in a heavyweight division that is suddenly overflowing with fledging young talent.

What answers will be delivered with the end of UFC 114 and what questions will be created? Saturday night the world will find out.

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