UFC 114: Rampage Vs. Evans marked one of the UFC’s biggest and most thoroughly hyped grudge matches yet. Jackson and Evans’ well-cultivated feud hit the boiling point after coaching opposite one another on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. After a delay caused by Jackson’s acceptance of a role as B.A. Baracus in The A-Team movie remake, the two squared off in the main event of UFC 114.
The night went to Evans, who used a wrestling-heavy and well disciplined approach to defeat “Rampage.” Despite their intense rivalry, Jackson was classy in defeat and it seemed that both men gained a measure of respect for one another after their time spent in the ring. Even still, in a recent interview with UK MMA magazine Fighters Only Jackson took a couple of potshots at Evans’ less-than-exciting game plan and his coach (Greg Jackson) by whom it was formulated.
“I apologize for the fight not so much because I lost but because of how it went down,” said “Rampage.” “I always like to put on exciting fights for the fans but Rashad came out to use that ‘Greg Jackson’ plan: be boring and squeak out a victory. So that bothers me more than the loss.”
Jackson was controlled by Evans for most of the fight except for a brief moment in the third round when Jackson hurt and dropped Evans against the cage. Despite that window of opportunity being opened, “Rampage” could not put “Suga” away. Many have opined as to why Jackson was unable to finish Evans, but “Rampage” offered his own explanation to Fighters Only.
“The reason why is because I thought he wanted me to rush in so he could take me down again,” said Jackson of his hesitancy to unload on Evans. “That’s the worst time to rush in and take somebody out. So the whole time I was walking on eggshells and trying to keep him from taking me down because Rashad is an awesome wrestler and I was having trouble getting up off the floor. So I figured if I rushed in he was gonna take me down.”
Jackson also disclosed that he was fighting with an injury, as most fighters do, but the Memphis-native did not go so far as to blame his loss on the injury; instead, he brought it up to point out an odd coincidence in Evans’ technical approach.
“I remember one other thing he was doing – he was punching me in my knee,” exclaimed Jackson. “It was weird because I had suffered a real bad knee injury in camp but we kept it secret, we didn’t say anything about it and we didn’t even tell the UFC. I told my doctor and that was it, he helped me out but I was going to back out of the fight. The only reason I didn’t back out was the fight had been so hyped and I didn’t want to disappoint the fans. Why was he punching me in the knee though? That’s kind of weird – did he find out about the injury? I don’t know. It’s weird.”
Although he lost, Jackson looked capable in defeat especially taking into consideration his long layoff. “Rampage” himself has openly admitted that ring rust played a large role in the loss and that accepting the acting job may have been a mistake. Several opponents have been bandied about for Jackson to face next but nothing official has yet been confirmed. No matter who he faces next, it is assumed that “Rampage” is not too far removed from the title picture and, with a solid win or two, he could find himself close to a title shot sooner rather than later. That is, if he decides to abandon his acting career and focus full-time on fighting.