In an ultra-hyped grudge match like UFC 114’s Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Rashad Evans, where the trash-talk and the mind games are paid as much attention as the actual fight, an incredible amount of pressure is placed on both parties to make the other pay for what he said and to not fail at backing up their own words. While not a complete blowout, Saturday night’s Evans-“Rampage” match belonged to Evans and it was so from the very first successful punch of the evening, a quick right hand that staggered Jackson across the Octagon. Evans told media at the post-fight press conference that that right hand connecting was just the confidence boost he needed to keep the fight’s momentum going in his favor for the majority of the evening.
“It was very important,” Evans told the press. “I wanted to go in the fight and make him respect me. If you let him get his rhythm down he will tee off on you with his big power shots. I picked up on something, I knew that if I threw that straight right hand I might catch him and I wanted to jump on him right away and let him know that I have power too.”
Despite finding success early in the standup department, Evans chose to employ a wrestling-and-clinch-centric gameplan that had many in the boo-heavy Las Vegas crowd loudly and openly voicing their displeasure with his approach. Evans echoed an oft-used Anderson Silva phrase when he told those in attendance at the presser that though they may not have enjoyed his performance it is likely because there are some things that the fans just do not understand.
“One thing you understand really quickly as a fighter – and the fans don’t really understand – is that you’re not punching with eight- or 10-ounce gloves on,” said Evans. “You’ve got four-ounce gloves on, and underneath that is a cast. It only takes one good shot for the fight to be over. I wasn’t [going] to take shots for [any] amount of boos.”
As for how he feels about the victory, Rashad is just glad that, for now at least, he won’t have his thoughts consumed by “Rampage” Jackson.
“I am happy I don’t have to talk about ‘Rampage’ any more,” Evans said. “I was talking about him all day every single day, no matter who I was fighting I was still talking about ‘Rampage’. I got tired of it man, it was haunting me in my dreams – I couldn’t even get away from it in my sleep!”