Report by Anthony Springer, Jr.
Dana White is never at a loss for words.
If there’s one thing fans and the media can count on, it’s hearing White’s truth, uncensored. If you knew nothing about mixed martial arts, White’s take on UFC 114’s headlining bout between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Suga” Rashad Evans signals that he, like the rest of the world is expecting a war.
“Not only do I think everybody wants to see this fight, they both want this fight real bad,” White said on a recent teleconference call.
To say that Jackson and Evans want to fight each other “real bad” is an understatement. The war of words between the two former light heavyweight champions has grown more volatile in the months following their initial confrontation at UFC 96.
After Jackson (30-7) got the better of Evans’ training partner and friend, Keith Jardine via decision, Evans—then the UFC’s light heavyweight champion—found himself in the center of the Octagon, face to face with Jackson.
What began as a friendly stare down to tease a fight quickly turned personal.
“I’m getting that belt back,” Rampage stated.
“You’re getting knocked the f### out,” Evans (19-1-1) shot back, before calmly stating, “I’ll give you the first punch mother f###er.”
The two continued their war of words on the tenth season of Spike TV’s hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, nearly coming to blows during the show’s filming.
If you thought the rivalry couldn’t get any more personal in the weeks leading up to the highly anticipated three rounder, it did.
In a back and forth banter reminiscent of Ali-Frazier, Rampage-Evans hit a new plateau when Evans referred to Jackson as a “sambo,” after Jackson jokingly teased a member of the press for using “big words.”
“He says ignorant stuff and perpetuates stupid[ity],” Evans said. “’Don’t use no big words, I don’t know what that is.’ Mother f###er, you ain’t stupid, stop acting like you’re stupid. Stop acting like just because you’re black, you’re stupid. I hate that.”
Never one to hold back, Rampage is not too fond of Evans either.
“I just don’t like the way he talks to me He’s just real fake and real cocky.” To add insult to injury, the former Pride standout took a shot at Evans’ career “He’s somebody that hasn’t really done much in this sport…”
Evans interrupts, “Hey, I was a world champion bruh.”
The back and forth between the pair begins again, with the two arguing their accomplishments. Evans sums it all up, reminding everyone that May 29 is quickly approaching.
“The best thing about all this s### talking is that we’ll see in two weeks. And I want you to be your best,” Evans says.
The teleconference call promoting the grudge match was marked by interruptions, arguments and lots of inaudible banter. A guaranteed title shot ensures that this is not just a bout for bragging rights. Newly crowned champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua destroyed Jackson in their first meeting in Pride years back. Knowing Rua has the belt gives Jackson the extra incentive to go out and perform.
“I feel like the universe is opening up for me right now,” Rampage says about a potential rematch with Rua. “It seems like it’s my time. The ‘Shogun’ fight haunts me. I went into the fight injured. It taught me a mean lesson. I was a kid and full of myself. I was all about making that money and it cost me. It makes me want to put a hurting on Rashad and then go put a hurting on Shogun. If I have to put Rashad’s face in the mud to get back to those nightmares I have, so be it.”
Evans will also bring some history into the cage. Evans shares several opponents with Keith Jardine—Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, and Thiago Silva—and he’s beaten them all. Call it superstition, but the man training out of New Mexico has good luck with everyone previously matched up with “The Dean of Mean.” If you think that thought is lost on Evans, think again.
“Part of the reason why I’ve beaten a lot of the guys Jardine faced is that we’ve had a chance to go at them one time before in training camp. I usually have a good idea how they are. When Jardine was fighting Quinton, I pretended to be Quinton. I know his style, when he’s gonna, go when he’s not gonna go. I know all that from scouting him.”
Though Jackson belittles Evans’ accomplishments and calls the match a “tune up” fight, for the man reprising the role of BA Baracus in this summer’s A-Team adaption to get caught asleep at the wheel.
“I’m not underestimating Rashad at all,” Jackson says, indicating a hint of respect for his adversary. “He’s got fast punches and pretty good takedowns. This is going to be a really good test for me. I’m not underestimating anybody else. I learned that from Forrest [Griffin]. This is the hardest I’ve trained for a fight…I’m very proud of myself.”
So is there any chance for a post-fight hug?
“For me, you always have to respect somebody you fight. You kinda exchange something with the person you fight; you leave your spirit on them a little bit and that’s something you’ve gotta respect.” Evans says. “If he whoops me or I whoop him, I’m sure we’ll probably fight again, but after the fight is over, we’ll probably be cool for a minute.
Jackson is not so optimistic.
“I’m a grown ass man,” Jackson says. “This is the first time I’m actually going to enjoy beating the hell out of somebody.”