Rashad Evans File Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Sherdog.com spoke with dozens of professional fighters and trainers to gauge their opinions on the UFC 114 main event Saturday between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans.
As it turns out, more pros put their reputations on the line in this Pros Pick than any other one we’ve done -- a sign that this fight has the MMA world abuzz.
Mac Danzig: This fight is interesting. It’s a stark contrast in terms of human integrity. On one side you have a talented, hard-working, real, down-to-earth fighter who isn’t a gimmick and doesn’t rely on pro wrestling antics to sell a fight. Then on the other side you have the complete opposite. What does that mean as far as the actual fight goes? Not much. All it really means is that in this case, there’s a guy I’d like to see prevail. But in this sport, nothing is certain and Jackson hits hard enough to take anyone out if he catches them on the button. But I’m going for Rashad in this fight. He has the skill and technique to win this fight anywhere it goes. Gimmicks work well in bad action movies. This isn’t a movie. May the best man win.
Eddy Millis: What a fight! My heart is with Rampage, but Rashad looks too focused, has a real good training camp and appears to be in the best shape. That being said, Rampage has great power and confidence in his standup game. If Rashad keeps it standing, he just may be the recipient of a Rampage left hook.
Javier Vazquez: I think either guy can win this fight, but who can implement their game plan best? In order for Rashad to win, he should take Quinton down and ground-n-pound him until the referee stops the fight. He should focus on control and positioning first because Quinton will be looking to get back to his feet. Quinton looked susceptible on his back in the Forrest Griffin fight, where he was taken down and dominated on the ground in the second round. The problem for Rashad is that Quinton is very tough to take down, so he must use his much improved standup to set up the takedowns. For Quinton the strategy is pretty straightforward: use his superior boxing skill to beat Rashad up on the feet and use his excellent takedown defense to keep the fight standing and wear Rashad out in the clinch. I think Quinton Jackson wins via KO/TKO in round three as he connects and flurries on a fatigued Rashad Evans.
Michael Guymon: This is one hard fight to call, in my opinion. I see Rashad using his movement and superior conditioning to edge out a victory in a split decision.
Scott Bieri: I have Rampage well ahead in trash talk, and I like his boxing to win the fight. But I think this one plays out similar to Penn/Edgar, with Evans buzzing in and out, stealing rounds with movement and takedowns.
Olaf Alfonso: I pity the fool who thinks Rampage doesn’t have the ability to power through Rashad, but there lies the interesting part: Does Rampage show up to fight and smash his way to the win or does he attempt to show off his technical prowess, in which case Rashad will thank him by dancing and moving and striking in ways that will confuse him and make him second guess his technique, leading Rashad to the win and sending Quinton back to the movie set? So I’m just waiting to see which Jackson shows up: Rampage who attacks or Quinton who likes to wait and box?
Robin Black: I think Rashad is going to be too quick and too technical for Rampage to handle. We’re probably gonna see Rashad switch back and forth between quick in-and-out boxing and big takedowns en route to a decision victory. Rashad gonna beat Mr. T.
Erik Paulson: This is a well-awaited fight with these two great fighters. I can’t wait to watch this one. I hope that Quinton’s head is back into fighting and hard training after the “A-Team” movie. Rashad is training all the time with the Jackson camp. The key for a great fight is that both fighters are prepared mentally and physically with a great game plan to win. I think emotions might play a big part of their performance factor. Either way the fight goes, I will be excited to watch with a big bucket of popcorn and a soda to wash it down! At the end of the fight, I hope they hug and make friends. Sometimes all problems can be solved only by throwing down. Can’t wait to watch and yell at the TV.
Marvin Eastman: Rampage by decision. He’s got a jaw like an iron anvil and you can’t KO him by punches. You got to overwhelm him in an attack with leg kicks, punches and movement to beat him, and then take him down, a la Beastman/Rampage #1 or Shogun/Rampage. Don’t stand in front of him and fight him; his jaw is hard as steel. Those fights are the blueprint on beating him, or it’s gonna be a unanimous decision win for Mr. T/my dog/homeboy. But it will be a great fight.
Seth Petruzelli: Rashad and Quinton, guilt-free black-on-black violence. Rashad has speed, Quinton has power. Both could grow Afros better than I. Since Rashad is my buddy, I’m going to have to go with him.
Ben Saunders: Rashad may get the win with a judges’ decision by takedowns and ground control, but if he can’t, Quinton is gonna get the KO or dominate standing. But they’re both great fighters and anything can happen in this sport.
Daniel Cormier: I believe this has to be one of the most interesting fights of the year. When you throw all the hate out the window, you have two very good fighters. They match up well, and the fight has a lot of factors. How’s Rampage going to handle the weight cut? How’s Rashad going to handle the size difference? Taking everything into consideration, I believe speed and skill wins the fight. And when you base it on those things, I think you have to pick Rashad. Rashad can take Rampage down. Rampage can’t do the same. That’s a huge advantage. I’m picking Rashad by decision.
Roland Sarria: Evans will try to put Quinton on his back with no success. Quinton will weather Evans’ onslaught of takedowns, then take over the fight with strikes and toughness. Quinton will win by stoppage.
Micah Miller: This fight comes down to motivation, I think. Rashad seems more determined to get the title back than Rampage. If he weren’t doing movies, I would see Rampage as a tough matchup for Rashad. He’s bigger, stronger, meaner, (has) more power and good takedown defense. I just think Rashad is more focused and will find a way to win.
Nick Thompson: Derrick Noble says Rampage. Derrick knows his fights. But then you have to figure in that while we were at Shine, I put my pad Thai in his chair when he wasn’t looking and he sat in it. He is still mad about this and he may be telling me it’s Rampage when he really thinks Rashad. But then you have to figure in that Noble knows that I know that he is mad, so he would tell me Rampage, knowing that I will know that he is lying and will pick Rashad and it actually is Rampage who will win. Rampage via TKO.
Derrick Noble: Nick Thompson and I were having our usual Pros Pick conversation the other night over dinner when he decided to secretly set his full plate of pad Thai on my seat. He thought this would be amusing, and of course I unknowingly sat right in it. At this point I am fairly angry at him, so out of spite I purposely tell him I pick Rampage to win. With him knowing that I am upset, he probably thought I was telling him Rampage to fool him when I really am picking Rashad. Nick is fairly bright, so he is probably thinking I told him Rampage knowing that he would think it was a trick and pick Rashad, so he will still pick Rampage. Therefore I am picking Rashad by decision.
Brett Rogers: Best of luck to both! But if I had to choose, I’m going with Rashad Evans over Rampage Jackson because “Sugar” is quick and powerful.
Jeff Monson: Jackson by decision.
Doug Marshall: I think the speed goes to Rashad, the power to Rampage, both about even on the wrestling, chin to Rampage, personality and punch lines to Rampage. So I’ll take Rampage (via) KO at the end of round one.
Benji Radach: I pick Rampage by a Rampage.
Julie Kedzie: I have been a Rashad Evans fan from the beginning. I am absolutely in awe of his technique and work ethic. In addition to this, his personality and devotion to his teammates is second to none. Although I believe that Rampage is an exceptional athlete and incredible fighter, it’s my opinion Rashad takes this 100 percent.
Kala Hose: I would have to go with Rampage, even though Evans is getting better as time goes by. I always was a fan of Rampage and his kick-ass style. (There is) so much bad blood between the two. I say this fight will be very high paced with Rampage winning (via) first-round KO. That’s if it doesn’t start on the entrance ramp.
Martin Kampmann: I think Rashad will take it (by) decision win.