You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI
My postfight column on Saturday's main event of UFC 114 between Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson touched a nerve. Yahoo! Sports readers get their turn to make their observations on the fight in this week's edition of the mixed martial arts mailbag.
Kevin, did you really expect a brawl at the Jackson-Evans fight? Evans, a smaller guy, a guy who wrestled at 167 and who is a part of the Greg Jackson camp, isn't about to come out brawling. In any fight, the objective is to fight your fight, which is exactly what Evans did. After his loss to Lyoto Machida, I don't think Evans will ever throw caution to the wind again unless facing an opponent he is absolutely sure he'll beat. Technically, it was a good fight for Evans, not so good for Jackson. Evans is now 19-1-1. That's not too bad.
Mark, if you read my column, you'll note that I wrote, "Evans fought a brilliant strategic fight," "No one, particularly Jackson, could have been surprised by Evans' strategy," and "No one was asking Jackson and Evans to replicate Forrest Griffin-Stephan Bonnar I … " So no, I didn't expect Evans to rush Jackson and stand toe-to-toe with him. I was highly disappointed in Jackson's failure to put more pressure on Evans. Rampage promised repeatedly to knock Evans out, but he seemed to follow Evans around the cage and didn't close the distance well. And as I said high in my column, it was a technical fight that would have been perceived differently had there not been more than a year of buildup and trash talk.
Why are you such a hater? That was a great fight between Rashad and Rampage. Why cheapen good strategy with bad press? Every time a fighter doesn't get knocked stupid, you say it's a bad fight. It's not fair to great fighters.
Phillip J. Wheeler
It was a good fight, not a great fight, though Rashad's strategy was perfect. I thought the Jason Brilz-Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight was outstanding and no one was knocked stupid in it. I think Rampage's words at the postfight news conference say a lot about what I think about the fight: "I feel tonight wasn't the real me. I hesitated too much and I just don’t feel I was at my best." In other words, he didn't let his hands go and he didn't put on enough pressure. And after he ran his mouth for more than a year about the harm he was going to inflict upon Rashad, that was a letdown for me.
Your column on the Rampage-Evans fight being a disappointment is ridiculous. Everyone I watched the fight with was on the edge of their seat. I think you were too caught up in the emotion of the ignorant crowd that was booing all night. Evans had an excellent game plan and should be commended on executing it. Rampage looked bad but it was only because Evans made him look bad.
I kind of had that edge-of-my-seat feeling throughout the fight, too, but that's because of expectations. We know Rampage is one of the best knockout punchers in MMA. We know he has some of the greatest slams. He once appeared on "Sports Science," which found that his slams generate 1,800 pounds of force. So this fight boiled down to whether Evans could move in and out, side to side, take Jackson down and avoid his big power shots. But the threat of Jackson grabbing Evans and power slamming him to the canvas was always there. So, too, was the potential of a fight-ending punch. But when it didn't come, it was a letdown.
Evans made comments like, "You're too slow," "You're head's too big," and "I'm going to knock you out," and "I'm going to make you quit." None of that happened. Evans did not want to stand and trade with Rampage. Having said that, Evans fought the fight he needed to fight to win. Both are still great fighters, in my opinion.
Robert Glenn Barton
I think Rashad was right when he questioned Jackson's speed. Jackson looked very slow in comparison to Rashad. But I don't remember Evans saying he was going to go toe-to-toe and he repeatedly said when asked that he'd stick to his game plan and keep the emotions out of it. He did exactly that. He said he would knock Jackson out and he failed there, but he never said he'd engage in a slugfest. And he didn't.
Your understanding of MMA based on what I read of your Evans-Rampage column leads me to believe you just want to see people bloody each other. It is a sport of skill and tactics. The booing by the crowd and your booing with words is what makes the sport difficult. People say it's too violent, so it is hard to get sanctioned in certain places. But when they prove it is a game of skill, people complain it is boring. I knew exactly how that fight was going to go. You play to your opponent's weaknesses. It amazes me that you seem to want blood or are just misinformed on the sport.
George, I am not one who says that every fight needs to end in a violent knockout or that the fighters need to wind up a bloody mess for it to be a great fight. Quite the contrary, some of my favorite fights are ones that went to a decision. Two that stand out to me are both Diego Sanchez fights, against Karo Parisyan and Clay Guida. Now, anyone who says MMA is too violent, even in fights where there is a knockout and a lot of blood, is clearly uninformed. MMA's safety record is exemplary. Much of that is because the fighters don't take repeated blows to the head over an extended period of time like they do in a boxing match. I do think it's fair, though, that in a main event that is more than a year in the making, where the trash talk reached the levels it did in this fight, to expect a faster pace than was delivered Saturday.
In the third round, the only reason Evans was able to come back and hurt Jackson was because Jackson didn't stay on him after he had him rocked. If Rampage didn't just stand there while Evans recuperated, Jackson could have had the knockout.
Long Island, N.Y.
I didn't like the way Jackson fought, Joe, but I do think he went for it when he hurt Rashad. Rashad did a great job of surviving. Rampage came close, but close only counts in horseshoes.
I watched the Jackson-Evans fight and I am very unhappy with how the fight went. From what I saw in that match, Evans was scared of Rampage. He held him against the cage for two rounds. I thought that this would be a slugfest and all I saw was Evans doing the complete opposite of what he said he would do. He said that he would knock Rampage out. He even sent the guy a Snuggie to keep him warm after he knocked him out. In the end, he got one good hit and when Rampage didn't go down from it, he got scared and tried to use his ground game to win. But in my opinion, he was scared and ran the whole match.
I definitely don't think Rashad was afraid. No one who steps into the cage, or into a ring, to fight in public is afraid. Sometimes we might question their strategy or their execution, but you can never question their courage. If Jackson had put on the kind of pressure he said he would, it might have forced Evans to fight a different fight. But the anticipated pressure from Jackson never came and Evans was able to stick to his game plan, which worked quite well.
UFC 114 was a fun card to watch, for the most part. My favorite bout was the John Hathaway-Diego Sanchez fight. There is something exciting about a lesser-known fighter taking apart a proven veteran. However, I was thoroughly disappointed with the Evans-Rampage fight. Although I respect the technical nature of the bout, I must ask myself, was there really any animosity between the two? I am of the belief that if two people thoroughly hate each other, they will be banging with each other in the ring. Do you believe that the rivalry was manufactured to some extent?
I don't think they were ever close buddies or even acquaintances. I think they disliked each other, but I think it was blown out of proportion to try to hype the fight. By the way, I loved Hathaway's performance, too. I picked him to win, so I wasn't surprised he won, but I was surprised at how thoroughly dominant he was.
My friends and I considered the result of the Antonio Rogerio Nogueira-Jason Brilz fight to be evidence of a fix in a UFC event. Even Joe Rogan was talking about how Brilz had won the first two rounds against Little Nog and yet we get two judges scoring it two rounds to one for Nogueira? Brilz landed more punches, scored more takedowns and had more submission attempts. There's absolutely no way that Brilz lost that fight two rounds to one. Even if you give Little Nog the third round, which I can understand, there's no way that you can give Little Nog either Round 1 or 2. I can't help but think that Little Nog probably has the bigger contract and so it is in the UFC's interest for him to win, because there was nothing in that fight that made me think that Little Nog won for any other reason.
Daniel, I thought Brilz won, but to say the fight was fixed is beyond ludicrous. Brilz clearly won the second round and Nogueira won the third. The outcome of the fight is based upon who you thought won the first. I gave it to Brilz, but I noted on Twitter that it was a close round and that it could turn out to be the decisive one in the fight. Before you start crying fix, you need to have a little more evidence than two judges scoring a very close round differently than you did.
- Rashad Evans