As if the upcoming grudge match between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Rashad Evans wasn’t already important enough, the heated rivals will now be battling for a shot at Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s newly-won UFC light heavyweight title belt.
Following Rua’s first-round destruction of former champion Lyoto Machida at UFC 113 on May 8 in Montreal, UFC President Dana White was originally unsure as to who “Shogun” would face in his first title defense. However White confirmed that the winner of Jackson-Evans will indeed get another crack at regaining 205-pound gold later this year during a teleconference promoting UFC 114 “Rampage vs. Evans” on Tuesday.
“It does add more to the fight,” Evans said of the title shot being on the line. “It adds to the hype and the energy that you put into it, but at the same time, you still have to train properly for the fight. You have to be really disciplined about that. It makes it kind of fun to be honest, but when I find myself not wanting to do something, (during training) I think about the title and it pushes me. That and what he (Rampage) has said about me.”
“This being for a title shot is kind of weird because I was already training for this fight like I was fighting for the belt,” said Jackson. “I’ve been training for a five-round fight. It’s already been for a title in my mind, so I’m just going to keep going and approaching it as that. I’ll keep training like it’s a championship fight and do what I need to do to get that belt back around my waist.”
A shot at Rua would be a chance for revenge for Jackson. The two fighters clashed under Pride rules in April 2005, with Rua earning a brutal stoppage win in under five minutes. It was one of Jackson’s worst losses.
“I feel like the universe is opening up for me right now,” Jackson said. “The Shogun fight has haunted me ever since then. I never should have taken the fight. I went into the fight injured because I was a young kid and I was full of myself and didn’t think anyone could hurt me. I was just looking for the money. Now I hear Rashad talking bad about it and I can’t explain how it makes me feel. I want to put a hurting on Rashad and then on Shogun right after that. I’m so fired up about it.”