The UFC 114 main event fight between enemies and former TUF 10 coaches was big enough as a grudge match. Now, as the fight approaches 10 days out, it has gotten even bigger.
No longer just an epic feud between two top light heavyweight contenders, UFC President Dana White confirmed on Tuesday during the media conference call that the winner of "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans will indeed be the first to test newly crowned 205 lb champion 'Shogun' Rua.
Both fighters embraced the new stakes to their battle.
"It does add more to the fight," Evans said. "It adds to the hype and the energy that you put into it, but at the same time, you still have to train properly for the fight. You have to be really disciplined about that. It makes it kind of fun to be honest, but when I find myself not wanting to do something, (during training) I think about the title and it pushes me. That and what (Rampage) has said about me."
"This being for a title shot is kind of weird because I was already training for this fight like I was fighting for the belt," said Jackson. "I've been training for a five-round fight. It's already been for a title in my mind, so I'm just going to keep going and approaching it as that. I'll keep training like it's a championship fight and do what I need to do to get that belt back around my waist."
With a win on the 29th, Jackson would be given a chance for redemption against Rua. It was Rua, back in April 2005, who brutally assaulted Jackson on his way to the 205 lb Pride Grand Prix Championship. Jackson has never forgotten.
"I feel like the universe is opening up for me right now," Jackson said. "The Shogun fight has haunted me ever since then. I never should have taken the fight. I went into the fight injured because I was a young kid and I was full of myself and didn't think anyone could hurt me. I was just looking for the money. Now I hear Rashad talking bad about it and I can't explain how it makes me feel. I want to put a hurting on Rashad and then on Shogun right after that. I'm so fired up about it."
A motivated "Rampage" Jackson? That's one scary man.