Punch Drunk Preview: UFC 114 Rashad vs Rampage

Punch Drunk Preview: UFC 114

This weekend’s event in Las Vegas is a card that revolves around the highly-anticipated meeting between former light heavyweight champions Rashad Evans and his nemesis Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Delayed since December, the hype for this event has been building through trash talk, the UFC Primetime series and a one-sided coaching duel on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter.

While the main event is the main focus, the rest of this card carries some intriguing matchups that will provide clarity to the contender status of some well-known stars, and showcase the potential of some of the top prospects in the UFC.

Enough talk – onto the fights.

Jesse Forbes (11-4-0) vs. Ryan Jensen (14-6-0)

The loser is returning to the regional circuit, as neither Forbes nor Jensen has been able to find success inside the Octagon.

Technically, Jensen has a win, defeating Steve Steinbeiss by submission in September 2009. I say “technically” because it was one of the worst stoppages in the history of stoppages. While stuck in a Jensen guillotine, the referee asked Steinbeiss if he was okay. Steinbeiss responded with a thumbs up and the referee stepped in, waving off the fight. When that’s your only win, you’re in trouble, but at least it’s one more win than Forbes has under his belt.

Aaron Riley (28-12-1) vs. Joe Brammer (7-1-1)

Riley is a grizzled veteran coming off a demolition at the hands of Ross Pearson, while Brammer got a bunch of attention for wearing a walkout shirt from Hoelzer Reich before Mark Bocek submitted him back in December.

It could be a slugfest that ends up getting play on either the preliminary or pay-per-view portion of the event, but it could just as easily be a meaningless meeting that goes off without much attention. Every time I get excited for a Riley fight, I end up being disappointed, so I’m going with the latter, though I’m hoping for the former.

Luis Cane (10-2-0) vs. Cyrille Diabate (15-6-1)

Getting knocked out by Lil’ Nog dropped Luis Cane from the middle of the main card to the third fight of the night. Yikes! Now he’s meeting Dan Henderson’s striking coach from Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter, Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate.

Cane was a Top 10-ish 205’er before the Nogueira fight and that promise and ability doesn’t fade with one loss. Diabate is dangerous because of his length and striking ability, but he hasn’t beaten anyone of serious consequence EVER and needed another year outside the organization to secure a contract after being featured on TUF 8. What does that tell you?

Melvin Guillard (23-8-2) vs. Waylon Lowe (8-2-0)

With the injury to Thiago Tavares, this fight went from a danger zone to a diamond mine for Melvin Guillard. Allergic to submission fighters, Guillard now faces a late replacement with no Octagon experience to speak, seeking a second consecutive win and a step up in competition.

He looked good in his first fight under the guidance of Greg Jackson and has always shown potential. While beating Waylon Lowe doesn’t really stand to advance Guillard’s career as much as beating a known entity like Tavares, a win is a win is a win and Guillard stands to earn another one here.

Efrain Escudero (12-1-0) vs. Dan Lauzon (12-3-0)

This fight was interesting before the Lauzon family feud kicked in, and now that the brothers are battling in the media, I’m even more excited to see what happens when Lauzon locks horns with TUF 8 winner Escudero.

Coming off his first career loss, Escudero has a lot of questions to answer in this fight too. How high is his ceiling? Will the loss change his approach? Does the Lauzon family feud give him a false sense of confidence that results in another loss?

Tune into Spike TV for all the answers.