There isn’t much MMA guru Greg Jackson hasn’t seen during his reign as one of the sport’s most brilliant minds. Although the verbal sparring sessions between his pupil Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have supplied some of the best jabs ever, it’s old news for Coach Jackson.
“I do know that trash-talking is a tool that has been used by a lot of people before. You have Muhammad Ali calling Floyd Patterson an ‘Uncle Tom’ before their fight for example,” Jackson told Sherdog.com. “How fighters conduct themselves is nothing new. They have the responsibility of selling fights.”
From the outside looking in, this beef appears more than authentic. Dana White recently admitted during a UFC 114 pre-fight media call that this was the worst feud he’s ever witnessed throughout his tenure as UFC president.
While emotions are expected to be at an all-time high this Saturday inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Jackson is confident that his protege will stick to the script and deliver a masterful performance.
“People don’t really understand how smart this guy is. He knows better than to get emotional or heated about it,” Jackson said of Evans. “I think he’s going to be all business at fight time. I’m not worried at all about him getting drawn in and trying to knock Rampage out in 15 seconds. He’s a real sharp and careful guy.”
Another advantage of not going for a quick kill would be the fact Rampage hasn’t fought since defeating Keith Jardine, another one of Jackson’s talented students, at UFC 96 in March 2009. Most believe the 14-month hiatus will greatly affect his conditioning and precision, however Team Evans knows they can’t depend on that as their saving grace.
“You can’t go in thinking about that. It’s pointless,” Jackson said of Rampage’s layoff to film “The A-Team” movie. “If he’s not the best Rampage ever, that will make our strategy that much better. If he’s Rampage as usual, then it’ll be business as usual. As soon as you can go in there and say, ‘Oh, Rampage had a year off,’ you get yourself in trouble.
“I think we’re going to run into the best Rampage we’ve ever seen and I hope that’s the case, because we have the best Rashad anyone has ever seen.”
While MMA purists believe Evans’ best shot at silencing his bitter rival would be to impose his superior wrestling skills, Jackson claims his client’s game has evolved to the point that the fight can end anywhere.
“We want to make sure that we’ve addressed all of the contingencies that can happen. Rampage is a powerful striker. He’s a pretty good wrestler. He’s a savvy veteran who knows when to relax a bit and then come right back. I have a lot of respect for him,” Jackson added. “However, I’m pretty confident in Rashad’s kickboxing ability. Rampage is an excellent boxer, it’s true, but Rashad is good as well and I’m always going to bet on my guy.”