Rampage vs. Rashad. Oh,yeah! I’m a huge fan of The Ultimate Fighter, so, naturally, after The Ultimate Fighter 10, I was incredibly hyped for this fight. Now, the Ultimate Fighter series has had some great rivalries between the coaches, including Ortiz and Shamrock, Hughes and Serra, Penn and Pulver, and currently, Liddell and Ortiz. Jackson and Evans was no different, and is possibly one of the biggest rivalries the show has ever showcased. Rampage has coached on the Ultimate Fighter before, opposite Forrest Griffin, and their rivalry then, while huge, was literally nothing compared to Rampage’s rivalry with Rashad on season 10. The verbal sparring they did against each other and the tempers lost throughout the show were just outrageous. It kept the tension building, made the season more exciting, and hyped up what would be an extraordinarily epic fight. Unfortunately, I, and UFC fans around the globe, were greatly disappointed when Rampage pulled out of his match against Rashad at UFC 108 to film the theatrical version of the A-Team instead.
But now the wait is over. Now we get to see it actually happen. I previously called this fight and mentioned that, while I liked Rampage more than Rashad and thought he was the more powerful of the two, I honestly thought that Rashad would take the fight because of his superior speed and skill. My prediction about Machida beating Shogun during their rematch may have been off, but I hit the money on this one. Rashad finally beat Rampage.
The win was very convincing as well. While Rashad failed to finish Rampage during the match and wound up getting a unanimous decision victory in the end, he dominated a good majority of the fight. Rashad had a classic Randy Couture strategy going into this fight. He would explode off his feet during an opportune moment and drive his opponent toward the cage walls, pinning him there with every ounce of his body weight at all times, while performing dirty boxing and other short strikes. Rashad was very effective with this and was able to pin Rampage almost at will. Rampage never seemed to have an answer for this, which I found a bit odd because I figured that he would be the better wrestler among the two. Rampage obviously went in thinking Rashad would stand with him the entire match, but I still thought his great wrestling background would see him through against Rashad’s attempts. Rashad even managed to take Rampage down on several occasions.
This, combined with what Joe Rogan mentioned as something he learned from the Machida fight, was the winning combination for Rashad in this fight. Not only was he able to dominate Rampage in terms of wrestling ability, but his footwork, speed, and agility were off the charts for this one. Definitely looking like a mirror image of his past opponent, Rashad would dart in and out, almost invisibly, past Rampage’s offense and defense, and perform whatever techniques he needed to in a flash. It was amazing to witness the difference in speed between the two competitors.
After performing this tactic for all of their three rounds, Rampage was visibly exhausted. Rashad couldn’t perform the strategy as well as Randy would have, though, as referee Herb Dean separated them more times than Rashad probably would have wanted. It was more than enough, though, and even saved him from certain defeat near the end. Early in the third round, Rampage managed to clip his opponent during one of Rashad’s attempts to take Rampage down. Rashad goes down and almost looks to have been knocked out and Rampage manages to deliver some severe ground and pound. Now, I mentioned previously that if Rampage manages to clip Rashad with one of those dynamite knuckles of his, then he would win this fight. I might have predicted the ultimate outcome of this matchup, but I sure was wrong on that one. A lot of people were doubting Rashad’s chin against Rampage’s attacks after witnessing him get knocked out badly against Lyoto Machida. All the credit in the world to Rashad, though, as not only did he somehow manage to stay conscious after one of Rampage’s knockout hits, he even survived his opponent’s ground and pound, and ultimately escape Rampage’s dominant ground position.
As I mentioned, despite thinking that Rashad would ultimately win this matchup, I liked Rampage better. When Rashad went down,I had flashes of the Machida fight and literally jumped out of my seat yelling “Yeah! Kill him!” But, man, Rashad’s resiliency in this one was nothing short of uncanny. Not only that, but his Randy Couture tactic saved his life by completely exhausting Rampage. After Rashad got back onto his feet, he was still visibly wobbly and weak from the previous attack,but Rampage did not at all capitalize. He was obviously gassed out, and that made all the difference. If Rampage had charged in, guns blazing, and managed to land at least another one of his meathooks on Rashad’s head, then he would have won that fight easy. As it was, Rashad managed to recover, take Rampage down, nearly finish him with some ground and pound of his own and finish the fight in style.
I have all the respect to Rampage, though. I have no idea if any of the speculations that he was too distracted after filming the A-Team to train properly and be a hundred for this fight are true, (EDIT: it's apparently very true).but he’s a former champion and will definitely be back. I wish him the best in the future.
Up next, though, will be Rashad’s attempt to reclaim the Light Heavyweight championship belt from Shogun. Because of how impressive Shogun looked against Machida the last time around, I give this fight to him. He knows Rashad’s a great fighter, so he’ll definitely prepare his best against him, but if Rashad manages to out-wrestle Shogun somehow, he may win the fight the same way he just beat Rampage. Either way, it’s going to be another exciting matchup!
Check out part two of my review of UFC 114 to see me tackle the rest of the main card and part three for my review of the preliminary fights!
And take a look at some more amazing UFC 114 photos over at mmafighting.com!