In what was billed as the biggest grudge match in MMA history, Rashad Evans survived a late flurry from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to bring home the unanimous decision win.
Despite the fact that “Rampage” had been out of action for over a year, he looked very solid in defeat tonight. Evans utilized his speed, unorthodoxy and wrestling technique to keep Jackson guessing and off balance. After rocking Jackson early, Evans pressed Jackson against the cage and looked to wear him down. Jackson stopped the takedown but could not keep Evans off of him, preventing him from putting to use his crisp and powerful striking. “Rampage” saw a glimmer of hope in the third round as he dropped Rashad and pounded him against the fence, but Evans held on long enough to recover and score a takedown that allowed him to establish his own ground and pound against the fence and clinch himself the victory.
“Rampage” certainly showed signs of ring rust, mainly with his timing. Most expected his conditioning to be lacking, but Jackson only slowed down in the last frame of the fight. Jackson proved in defeat that he certainly has what it takes to compete against the best in the world and he still sits among the upper echelon of the light-heavyweight division.
Evans looked very impressive tonight and, if it were not for the presence of John Hathaway and Mike Russow on the card, would definitely be the biggest winner of the evening as he not only took home the moral victory over “Rampage” but also locked himself into a title shot with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Both men did their part to further the image of the sport as they showed incredible grace in the wake of all of their heated back-and-forth. Evans gave Jackson his due and never attempted to rub his victory in Jackson’s face; Jackson was all class in defeat and it is likely that both men won fans with their gracious post-fight behavior.