UFC 114: The Rampage Jackson – Rashad Evans Aftermath
In the main event of UFC 114, Rashad Evans used his speed and superior conditioning to beat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to a unanimous decision. Looking sharp from the offset, the Greg Jackson trained Rashad secured his shot at light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua with a mixture of take downs and stick and move strikes. Jackson looked to be a step behind the pace all night, and despite briefly threatening after catching Rashad in the third, had neither the will or the conditioning to pull out the win.
Next for Rashad will be a shot at newly crowned champion Shogun, which he will undoubtedly be the favorite to win. Rashad’s sole loss so far came at then hands of then champion Lyoto Machida, but with Shogun’s aggressive style he will likely play right into Rashad’s hands. For the time being though, Evans will no doubt be happy to have beaten the man he has spent the last year or so battling in the media.
Rampage Jackson reportedly turned up at his training camp weighing in at 250lbs, due in large part to his recent inactivity and budding acting career. Jackson admits that he will have to choose between fighting or acting in the future, although the choice probably isn’t going to be as clear cut as he might like. For starters, a lot of the movie roles he has been given so far have probably come from the fact that he is also a UFC fighter. Any famous fighter has an in built appeal that they can bring to any otherwise bargain basement action flick. Jackson’s latest work though, the A-team, is a much bigger budgeted affair and could be his ticket into more lucrative roles.
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (little Nog) beat Jason Brilz by split decision in a controversial fight which Brilz seemed to have in the bag. Nogueira had momentary flashes of dominance, and didn’t suffer a great deal of damage, but Brilz’s wrestling and clearly underrated striking left the Brazilian looking second best for large portions of the fight.
Next for both men should be a rematch, but more likely Nogueira will take another step towards a title shot while Brilz will be thrown back into the mix. On the plus side though, Brilz showed he is probably several tiers higher than most thought he was, and his humility even in defeat will have won him a lot of new fans.
Massively hyped heavyweight prospect Todd Duffee took an unexpected tumble from grace after being knocked out in the third round against Mike Russow. Coming into the fight Russow was though of as the kind of solid wrestler who feasts on the competition on local circuits, but struggles against anyone who can stop a shot in the bigger shows. Duffee had the muscles, striking and record breaking stoppage to make this another win in the bag. Or so everyone thought.
For the first two rounds, things went more or less to plan for Duffee, who shrugged off Russow’s take down attempts and hit the underdog with strikes from every angle. It looked to be only a matter of time before Duffee landed something that would end the fight. In the third round though, a tiring Duffee was caught in the temple by a still swinging and evidently solid chinned Russow, who derailed the Duffee hype train in a matter of seconds.
Next for Russow will probably be another fighter expected to be beaten, perhaps someone along the lines of Joey Beltran, and we will see just how iron his jaw really is. Duffee will no doubt return to the under card for his next few fights, which will probably all be against lower tier heavyweights to build his confidence back up.
Perhaps the most significant upset on the card came in the form of British prospect John Hathaway dominating Diego Sanchez on the way to a unanimous decision. The still undefeated Hathaway was regarded as a prospect coming into the UFC, but faced a huge step up in class against Sanchez, who many at one time regarded as one of the top five welterweights in the world. The taller Englishman used his superior reach and jab to frustrate Sanchez for large portions of the fight, and came close to a stoppage after dropping Diego with a huge knee to the chin at one point as well.
Some will undoubtedly question whether Hathaway is that good or whether Diego is simply experiencing a dip in form of late. The answer might be a little of both, but as a highly rated fighter Sanchez’s next fight probably won’t be much easier on paper. Hathaway might well be brought along as the UFC’s next UK star after most of the more talented British fighters have slipped up recently.
Unlike many British fighters, Hathaway also has decent wrestling, and doesn’t fit into the stereotypical football hooligan type persona that a lot of them seem to for some reason. Because of this, as well as his humility and eloquence (U.S fans often struggle to understand regional British accents, often calling me into service as a bespoke translator when I watch events with American friends and relatives) I can see him becoming the next British star.
Former Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah looked lost against the grappling prowess of Dong Hyun Kim for more or less the entire three rounds of their bout and doesn’t have a clear next direction. Sadollah won the show without any professional MMA experience, and as such pairing him up with opponents in the UFC has so far been rather hit and miss for match maker Joe Silva. Against the right kind of opponent the Forrest Griffin clone looks every part the rugged brawler he trains with, but against a fighter who doesn’t come to throw leather, he remains rather limited.
Sadly for Dong Hyun Kim, he will probably receive similar treatment to another Asian wrestler the UFC has kept on the sidelines despite notching up the wins. Yushin Okami always seemed to be one step away from a title shot, although never quite seemed to impress enough in his wins to take that extra step up the ladder. On a positive note for Dong Hyun Kim though, the welterweight division is a lot deeper than middleweight, meaning that there are plenty of intriguing matches out there for him to prove he is more than another controlling, low damage grappler.
Also on the main card, Michael Bisping defeated Dan Miller using his crisp stand up and handed the struggling wrestler his third loss in a row. for most fighters that would mean a pink slip, but considering Miller’s opponents have all been top drawer, Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia and now Bisping, he might not face the cut just yet. Next for Miller will likely be the role of gatekeeper of the division until he can string together a few wins, which should allow him to gain his confidence back. Next for Bisping might well be a rematch with Wanderlei Silva, which for some reason he has been campaigning for, despite the fact that he clearly lost the fight.