It's not the first time we've been duped and it won't be the last. Trash talk is great and gets fight fans jacked into thinking fighters are going to knock each other head's off, that's until one of the fighters decides to use brains over brawn. Rashad Evans talked a lot of nasty smack, but on fight night against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, he executed a nice gameplan of clinching and picking his shots to walk away with a unanimous decision win (30-27, 29-28 and 30-27), in the main event at UFC 114.
"The gameplan was simple. Not to have a gameplan at all," said Evans, a former Michigan State wrestler. "Do what I do well, know what he doesn't do well and stay out of position I'm not too good at."
Evans (20-1-1) gets a huge win but it didn't come without some dangerous moments in the final round. In many ways, the fight was a carbon copy of what happened in Evans' last fight, against Thiago Silva. Evans' movement was too much for Jackson to handle in the first two rounds but then he got caught with a left hook that clipped him on the top of his head in the third round.
"I went out for a little bit," said Evans. "I was just fighting through. I'm not going to give up no matter what."
But just like in the Silva fight, Rampage had nothing left in the gas tank to finish the fight. He jumped on the downed Evans but couldn't get off that one fight-finishing shot as referee Herb Dean watched closely.
"I was very surprised he recovered. I put all my eggs in that basket," said Jackson of trying to finish the fight.
Evans got to his feet with 2:30 left in the fight and was clearly on shaky legs, but Rampage never threw another shot with conviction. Jackson got taken down two more times to close the fight and seal the deal for Evans.
"It's a huge relief," said Evans. "If he wants to do it again, I'll fight him again."
Rampage only has himself to blame. He took time off to play B.A. Baracus in the "A-Team" movie and allowed himself to balloon to 251 pounds. Rampage reportedly had little trouble getting down to 205 but dramatic weight losses like that tend to sap a fighter on fight night.
"I guess ring rust is a factor," said Jackson. "(The weight loss) was a lot of stress on me but I looked and felt good. It wasn't factor in the fight."
Objective observers would disagree. Jackson got nailed by a right early in the fight that sent him stumbling backwards. He was also unable to first avoid and then free himself from Evans' clinch game against the cage. His punches lacked snapped in the second round and once Evans got to his feet after the barrage in third, Rampage was virtually helpless to defend the takedown down the stretch.
"I tried my best," said Jackson (30-8, 5-2 UFC). "Rashad is really tough. He worked really hard. He was faster than I anticipated. He was the man here today."
Jackson would like a rematch but he'll have to stand in line. The winner of this fight was promise a title shot against UFC light heavyweight champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
- Rashad Evans