Will Rampage Jackson steal the title shot away from Rashad Evans?Posted on May 30, 2011, 09:19 AM by Anton Gurevich
Rampage Jackson's victory over Matt Hamill opened new options for Jon Jones in the UFC Light Heavyweight division. Only two weeks ago, Rashad Evans was the only possible contender for Jon Jones' title. But now, when Evans moved one step back to face Phil Davis (at UFC 133), it looks like Rampage could steal what belonged to "Suga" since UFC 114.
Rashad Evans made the biggest mistake of his MMA career when he decided to retire after UFC 114. While Rashad Evans was waiting for Shogun Rua to recover from his knee injury, not only that Jon Jones captured the UFC Light Heavyweight Title, but the man who "Suga" beat to get his title shot, Rampage Jackson, defeated two top contenders in Lyoto Machida and Matt Hamill.
Even with victory over Quinton Jackson and an amazing record in the UFC Light Heavyweight division, Rashad Evans now finds himself at least two fights away from fighting for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. MMA Math betrays the former Greg Jackson fighter, who will have to prove his worth against a very dangerous opponent in Phil Davis at UFC 133. But then again, Phil Davis is 3-0 since Rashad Evans' last fight, and will surely find himself one step ahead if victorious on August 6th
Only a few weeks ago, I was interviewing the Bellator Middleweight Tournament Winner Alexander Shlemenko, a 27 year old fighter with a record of 39-7. Shlemenko told me that as a professional Mixed Martial Artist, he simply can't afford to fight three times a year (Shlemenko fought six times back in 2010, and two times already in 2011)
Yes, the situation in the UFC is a little bit different. To say the least, ZUFFA fighters make more money than their colleagues in Bellator, and Rashad Evans can do well fighting even two times a year.
But it's not all about the money. Shlemenko, and many other MMA fighters who fight at least three times a year, are always in shape (ring rust is real, ask Rampage), and are always competitive when it comes to rankings and their position in terms of title contention.
UFC's 205 division is stacked with top class talent, with fighters like Forrest Griffin, Alexander Gustafsson and Vladimir Matyushenko also being "in the mix" for a shot at the title. You can't afford having a year-long layoff while your opponents are staying busy. And that's exactly why Rampage is ahead when it comes to challenging Jon Jones for his belt.
Rampage Jackson is a great fighter, and he proved yesterday why he's still one of the best Light Heavyweights on the planet. Stylistically, Jackson-Jones is a better match-up than the one including Evans. Jones already fought great wrestlers in Jake O'Brien, Vladimir Matyushenko, Matt Hamill and Ryan Bader. Of course Rashad Evans is a better wrestler than any of the mentioned above fighters, but still, he has very little to offer against Jones when it comes to striking.
Rampage on the other hand, is a heavy hitter with great striking arsenal, who will go forward to knock Jon Jones clean out. It will be very interesting to see how Jon Jones does against a tough-as-nails fighter, with great takedown defense and extremely heavy hands.
Photo: UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson during the weigh in before UFC 114 on May 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Francis Specker