After multiple back-and-forth verbal exchanges on the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter, former UFC light-heavyweight champions Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and “Suga” Rashad Evans are set to headline UFC 114: JACKSON vs. EVANS on May 29.
“It’s no secret that Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans don’t like each other, and this rivalry has gotten more and more intense in the last few months,” said UFC President Dana White. “I can guarantee you that neither one of these guys wants to lose to each other. This fight is going to be insane.”
As quick with his fists as he is with his wit, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (fighting out of Irvine, Calif., 30-7) hammered the competition on his way to the title with a stunning KO victory over then champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell at UFC 71. With knockout wins over Wanderlei Silva, Liddell and Marvin Eastman and a decision victory over Dan Henderson, the 31-year-old Memphis, Tennessee native has picked up wins against some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. Most recently earning a unanimous decision win over Keith Jardine at UFC 96, Jackson has won two in a row and now faces Jardine’s friend and training partner.
“I really want to knock this guy out,” Jackson said. “I’ve never, ever wanted to knock someone as cold as I want to knock Rashad Evans out. He’s disrespected me so much, for so long. I am so motivated to train my ass off. I’ve moved my coaches into my house already - Rashad should be prepared to see a brand new Rampage in May. I saw him in Sydney a few weeks back, and we picked up right where we left off. I can’t stand him. He’s a disrespectful person, and I didn't even want to beat Wanderlei as much as I want to beat this guy.”
A former All-American college wrestler turned successful mixed martial artist, “Suga” Rashad Evans (fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M., 19-1-1) put himself back on the championship track with an impressive decision victory over knockout artist Thiago Silva at UFC 108. With an outstanding 9-1-1 record in the UFC, Evans has fought and beaten the best, including wins over former UFC champions Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin. Now the 30-year-old former Michigan State wrestler and Niagara Falls, New York native will get his chance to exchange blows with the man he’s been exchanging words with.
“I don’t like all the pre-fight talking, so I can’t wait until I finally get my chance to shut him up,” said Evans. “There were a lot of times on the show when I wanted to hit him right there. When Keith [Jardine] was training for his fight with Rampage, I had to mimic Rampage’s style. I can probably beat Rampage as Rampage now. Plus, he’s gotten fat. He needs to get in shape just to get in shape. I may come to the Octagon with Mr. T just to get in his head.”
Photo: James Ng