Rashad Evans outclassed Quinton Jackson
Not only did Rashad Evans get the best of the war of words, but the former light heavyweight champion got the best of the physical confrontation as well, earning a unanimous decision victory over nemesis Quinton Jackson in the UFC 114 main event.
Evans used the same successful combination of speed and wrestling acumen to defeat Jackson that he showcased in his win over Thiago Silva five months earlier, darting in and out with quick hands and executing textbook takedowns when necessary.
Conditioning and a singular focus on fighting proved to be a part of the winning formula as well, with the dedication Evans has shown to working with Jonathan Chaimberg and remaining in fighting shape year-round helping him get the better of his arch rival.
Decision time for Rampage
The days of using an eight-week training camp to shed the accumulated effects of three months outside of the gym are dead and gone. So too are the times when being a power puncher was enough to propel you to the top of divisional rankings.
Quinton Jackson needs to acknowledge those facts and decide whether being a solid fighter with numerous extra-curricular pursuits is enough for him. If returning to the top of the light heavyweight division is something he truly craves, Jackson needs to put the Hollywood ambitions on hold and spend more time in the gym and in shape.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, so Jackson will remain a power puncher needing a knockout to earn a victory, but a better conditioned, more focused fighter will certainly stand a better chance at returning to championship glory than the current incarnation of Quinton Jackson.
The Michael Bisping Dilemma
Too good for tier two, Bisping is a well-rounded, dangerous gatekeeper in the making after another strong showing at UFC 114.
Just as he did against Denis Kang and Chris Leben, Bisping outclassed Dan Miller on Saturday night. His striking is enough earn him stand-up wins over the middle of the pack in the middleweight division, and his ground game is clearly improving. He’s evolving and talented, but is he talented enough to make it to the top?
His two meetings with upper echelon competition ended in defeat, with Dan Henderson famously knocking him out at UFC 100 and Wanderlei Silva earning a good win over Bisping at UFC 110. It’s apparent that Bisping needs to fight better competition than Miller, but his track record against that class of competition is lacking.
What to do with Michael Bisping?
And the Knockout of the Year Award goes to…
There might be a whole slew of fights left on the schedule for the year, and some will produce violent finishes, but it’s going to take a lot to top Russow’s come-from-behind, one-shot stoppage of Todd Duffee.
This was Robbie Lawler knocking out Melvin Manhoef at the end of the first round multiplied by three. For more than two rounds, Russow was beaten and battered by the hulking Duffee. Through it all, he remained upright, and when he finally connected, the fight was over.
While some may never see the doughy heavyweight as a viable contender in the division, he just endured a serious beating before ending the night of a highly-touted prospect who many had marked for greatness.
High-five for Jason Brilz
Though the hyperbole about what can happen when you take a chance was over the top – there are a lot of guys who have taken the same chance and got handled – Jason Brilz deserves a serious round of applause and another shot at a top competitor following his short-notice performance against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Brilz did more than hold his own – he excelled, securing a serious guillotine in the second round that was the closest potential finish of the fight. The Nebraska native also staggered “Lil’ Nog” late in the same round, perhaps missing a golden opportunity for a finish by not capitalizing.
There are going to be mixed opinions about the outcome, one thing that is not up for debate is that Jason Brilz just impressed the hell of out a lot of people and inserted himself into the conversation at light heavyweight.
Somewhere, Eliot Marshall must be really confused
I’ve spoken to Marshall in the past, and I know he’s not one to dwell on situations and circumstances; he’s the only person I’ve heard use the words “It is what it is” as frequently as my mother. Despite his always positive outlook, the Ultimate Fighter alum has to be wondering how he’s on the outside looking in right about now.
While he was cut following a split decision loss to Vladimir Matyushenko, “The Janitor” was elevated to main event status opposite Jon Jones. Previous to that, Marshall earned the split over Brilz, in addition to two other wins inside the Octagon.
Life certainly isn’t fair and the roster can only contain so many 205-pound competitors, but considered what went down last night – and who is on the poster for the next UFC Live event – Eliot Marshall looks like he belongs in the UFC.