After Quinton Jackson (30-8) boldly declared that “Suga” Rashad Evans (15-1-1) would see the most dangerous “Rampage,” the former UFC light heavyweight champion and star of the upcoming A-Team admitted what everyone already knew.
“Ring rust is a factor.”
Though the pre-fight trash talk added to the epic nature of the promotion’s newest rivalry, Jackson says the long layoff, not his emotions, got the better of him in the fight.
“Emotions didn’t bother me one bit,” a disappointed Jackson stated. “Rashad had an excellent game plan and he looked good. In a rematch I‘d try to be more aggressive. I tried to mentally block out ring rust. People kept asking me about it and it pissed me off in interviews. Tonight I felt it and I’m ashamed of my [performance].”
Jackson’s star rose considerably coming into the fight. Reprising Mr. T’s role as BA Baracus was like a dream come true for the Memphis fighter, who watched The A-Team growing up with his father. After UFC 114’s heartbreaking loss, Jackson expressed a different sentiment about the movie.
“I never had any pressure like this my whole fighting career,” Rampage added.” I focused really hard and I trained really hard. I kinda regret doing the damn movie. Fox kinda threatened to sue me if I lost, because they didn’t know I was fighting. I think I did good considering, but I’m so happy everything is over. I’m a fighter and I tried to go into a whole new venture; it’s very stressful.”
To his credit, Evans came entered the cage focused on the monumental task of beating one of the sport’s best fighters. Jackson was never able to find a rhythm due to Evans repeatedly changing levels and switching from striking to wrestling.
“One thing I wanted to do was keep him guessing,” Evans said. “’Rampage’ is probably one of the best in the game with timing people and catching them with that big uppercut.”
Instead of the trademark “Rampage” uppercut, Evans struck first. Moments into the first round, Evans fired a big straight right hand down the pipe that connected with Jackson’s jaw. The blow sent shockwaves through the capacity crowd when Jackson—known for an iron chin—staggered.
“One thing I wanted to do was make him respect me,” Evans added. “If Quinton gets his rhythm down he’ll tee off on you with big power shots. I picked up on something; I knew if I threw the straight right hand I might catch him and I wanted to jump on him right away and let him know that I have a little power too.”
The MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd walked in expecting a slugfest. When they were treated to a three round MMA fight, many grew restless, booing the sometimes-stalled action. Evans, clearly in control from the opening bell, didn’t allow the disapproval to get to him, explaining that in MMA, months of training can fly out the window with one careless mistake.
“You understand really quickly as a fighter is that you’re not punching with eight or ten ounce gloves. You’ve got four ounce gloves and under that is a cast. It only takes one punch for the fight to be over.
“I’m not trying to take any shots for any amount of boos.”
Evans did feel the power of Rampage after being dropped with a right hand in the final frame. Evans regained his composure and went on to score a takedown in the latter half of the round, sealing the victory.
With the fight behind them, will Jackson and Evans bury the hatchet?
Don’t count on it.
“Rashad can still kiss my ass,” Jackson said to laughter. “He said a whole lot and I’m not going to forget it. He can still kiss my black ass.”
Not one to be outdone when it comes to talk, Evans fired back a salvo of his own, “He can kiss my ass too.”