The biggest grudge match in MMA history went down Saturday night and thoroughly failed to live up to expectations. Although Rashad Evans handed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson a convincing unanimous decision loss, “Suga” was booed by the MGM Grand Arena crowd for much of the 3Round affair.
Despite both fighters promising to provide explosive action, Evans clinched, wrestled and survived for a 30-27, 29-28, 30-27 win.
“The game plan was simple, not have a game plan at all,” Evans matter-of-factly stated. “At first he was sharp, but he kind of slowed down. I was able to use my speed.”
Evans landed a big right that rocked Rampage in the opening ticks, however wasn’t able to finish a visibly wounded Jackson. It was obvious from the beginning that Evans was multiple steps quicker than his bitter rival, however opted to out-wrestle B.A Baracus instead of exchanging bombs.
Prior to Saturday night, Rampage hadn’t been seen inside an Octagon since his unanimous decision win over Keith Jardine at UFC 96 in March of 2009, and the layoff was blatantly obvious. A dejected Rampage openly admitted that ring-rust is no joke, as it clearly overtook him.
Despite his overwhelming lead heading into the final stanza, Rampage connected with a barrage of strikes and dropped Evans. Surprisingly, Evans weathered the attack as a gassed Jackson wasn’t able to capitalize on his only opportunity to finish the scrap.
“I was very surprised he recovered from that,” Jackson stated. “I put all my eggs in that basket. I was trying to take him out. I tried my best.
“Rashad is really tough. I could tell he worked really hard. He was faster than I anticipated. I sparred with a lot of small, fast guys to be ready for him, but he was the man here today.”
With the lopsided win, Evans earns first dibs at Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s newly minted light heavyweight title. It’s a belt Evans donned not too long ago, albeit for a very brief moment.