Rampage Jackson finally returns to action later this month when he takes on Rashad Evans at UFC 114. The way Rampage sees it, Rashad is merely a “warm-up fight” to get himself back in the groove before challenging Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the title. Then if all goes according to plan and he gets his belt back, he wants a chance to avenge his loss to Forrest Griffin.
“I want to go get Rashad. Nice warm-up fight, kick his ass. Fight Shogun, redeem myself for my sleep, for my mind. Then go and beat the hell out of Forrest, retire him,” Jackson told us yesterday as he pondered what would be a perfect run for him.
“Only reason is because of the way Forrest acted afterwards, when he knows he lost the fight. You go back and watch the footage when they said he won, he was so surprised. That fight was a controversial fight just like Machida-Shogun 1 was a controversial one,” he says. “But Forrest was the poster boy because of TUF and me, well…”
“I feel like fighting Rashad is a step backwards, because he doesn’t have the belt anymore. But if things go right, this will be a nice warm-up fight for Shogun. If everything works out it will be nice. Everybody knows I took time off, it would be stupid to go right into a title fight with Shogun so this will be a good test for me. If I lose to Rashad I don’t even deserve to get my belt back!”
It all sounds nice, but I hope Rampage remembers why he struggled so much against Forrest. He blew up to 250 lbs. during the extended layoff for TUF 7 and had trouble returning to previous form. And here he is again coming back down from 250 after another extended layoff. Word is he’s managed to get back in shape, but will he be as sharp as he was when knocked out Wanderlei Silva and decisioned Keith Jardine? I don’t know, but he might want to take it one fight at a time. Rashad Evans isn’t someone to take lightly.