Evans Bests ‘Rampage’ at UFC 114

By Brian Knapp May 30, 2010
Rashad Evans got the last word.

With a game plan anchored in speed, takedowns and superior work in the clinch, Evans defeated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by unanimous decision in the UFC 114 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27 for Evans, who emerged as the top contender for UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Evans started with a bang, when he sent Jackson reeling backwards with a right hand in the opening exchange. The Niagara Falls, N.Y., native moved immediately to the clinch and began to whittle away at Jackson’s resolve. Evans scored with a takedown with 2:15 left in round one and rushed out to a quick lead in one of the most emotionally charged grudge matches in UFC history.

The second round followed a similar pattern. Evans continued to push the fight in the clinch and kept his opponent’s back pressed against the cage. Visibly frustrated, a fatigued Jackson retreated to his corner in need of a knockout at the end of round two.

Jackson had his chance in the third, as he bullied Evans into the cage, flurried and threatened to end it on the ground.

“I went numb for a little bit, but that’s what happens sometimes,” Evans said. “I was just fighting through it. In my mind, I was like, ‘I’m not going to give up no matter what.’”

Evans weathered the attack, and Jackson, perhaps out of gas, could not capitalize on the opportunity, even as his opponent wobbled in front of him.

“I was very surprised he recovered from that,” Jackson said. “I put all my eggs in that basket. I was trying to take him out.”

Evans closed strong, as he delivered another takedown with 1:45 to go, pinned Jackson against the cage and dropped punches from the top.

“I tried my best,” Jackson said. “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.”

Bisping Outduels Miller

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Michael Bisping won a unanimous decision from Dan Miller in the co-headliner, as he leaned on a heavy volume of strikes and stout takedown defense in a three-round middleweight bout. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

Bisping put a steady stream of right hands on Miller, a former International Fight League champion who now finds himself on a three-fight losing streak. The 31-year-old Wolfslair Academy standout stuffed a takedown attempt from Miller in the second round and bounced back to his feet in a matter of seconds after being taken down in the third.

Miller scored with occasional punches and kicks to the head and body. However, his offense revolved mostly around leg kicks, and they were not enough to turn the fight in his favor.

“I hit him with some big right hands, and he stood right there and took them like a man,” said Bisping, who bounced back from his unanimous decision loss to Brazilian icon Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110. “I’m a little bit annoyed with myself for not finishing it, but Dan’s a tough guy. I underestimated him on the feet a little bit. He’s very, very good.”

Russow Scores Improbable KO

File Photo/Sherdog.com

Russow shocked Duffee.
Pride Fighting Championships veteran Mike Russow absorbed everything Todd Duffee threw his way for two and a half rounds and scored a stunning knockout against the previously unbeaten heavyweight prospect 2:35 into round three.

“This was an awful fight,” Russow said. “I didn’t execute my game plan at all. It’s a shock. My goal was just to hang in there the whole time, just keep trying to pressure him.”

His persistence paid huge dividends. Russow unleashed a pair of straight right hands, and Duffee fell backward, his head bouncing off the canvas in a surreal finish. Duffee dominated the first 10 minutes and dropped Russow to one knee with a pair of brutal first-round uppercuts. Russow kept coming, and Duffee’s pace slowed notably in round two. Still, the knockout caught everyone, including the victor, by surprise.

“It looks nice,” Russow said. “I need to get back to the gym, though. I got a lot more work to do.”

Nogueira Outpoints Brilz

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira engaged in a spirited dogfight with Jason Brilz and emerged with his hand raised in a controversial split decision. All three judges scored it 29-28, two of them for Nogueira, as the crowd showered the cage with its displeasure.

Brilz, a late replacement for former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, scored with takedowns in all three rounds and held his own in the stand-up exchanges. After a close first round, the Bismarck, N.D., native threatened Nogueira with an arm-in guillotine choke in the second round, but the Pride Fighting Championships veteran did not go away, even as referee Yves Lavigne hovered above him.

“I thought I had him,” Brilz said. “I thought Yves jumped in there to stop it for a second. I almost let it out.”

Nogueira picked up the pace in round three, as he swept Brilz twice from the bottom and briefly trapped the former Victory Fighting Championship titleholder in a backside crucifix. His late efforts were enough to sway two of the scorecards in his favor.

“We had to change all the game plan because Forrest Griffin is a good striker and Brilz is a very tough guy, a very good wrestling guy, [so] I had to change all of the plan,” Nogueira said. “I think that’s why I had some difficulty. I thought I won because I was more aggressive.”

Brilz was graceful in defeat.

“I left it to the decision of the judges again,” he said. “Anything can happen. It is what it is. I went out, I had a great performance, and that’s what my whole plan was.”

Unbeaten Hathaway Tops Sanchez

Surging British welterweight John Hathaway spoiled Diego Sanchez’s return to the 170-pound division, as he dominated “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 winner for three rounds and cruised to a unanimous decision. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26.

Hathaway had his opponent reeling midway through round one, when he dropped Sanchez with a crackling knee and swarmed for the finish. The 22-year-old London Shootofighters thoroughbred followed the blow with a heavy stream of ground-and-pound that featured punches and elbows from the top. Sanchez survived, but the tone for the rest of the bout had been set.

“I was hoping I would [finish it],” Hathaway said, “but obviously Diego is incredibly tough, and he pulled through very well.”

Perfect in 13 professional appearances, Hathaway found a home with his straight right hand, snapping Sanchez’s head back repeatedly in their 15-minute encounter. He supplemented his attack with leg kicks and a stiff left jab, announcing himself as a player at 170 pounds.

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