Are they TUF enough?

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Tonight will mark the true coming of age for The Ultimate Fighter.

In a stacked UFC 92, where any of the top three fights could be the headliner, the winners of TUF 1 and TUF 2 will square off the for the light-heavyweight crown.

"Obviously, I think it's a good form of validation, two guys from the show fighting for the title is pretty impressive," says Forrest Griffin, the original Ultimate Fighter who puts his belt on the line against Season 2 winner "Sugar" Rashad Evans.

Griffin, a fan favourite for his heart and country-boy approach, co-headlines tonight's card that also includes an interim heavyweight title clash between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, as well as a scrap between light- heavyweight contenders Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

Evans agrees that having two competitors of the UFC's reality show battle for the belt bodes well for the reputation of all TUF contestants.

"I think it's a great accomplishment for Forrest and myself," says Evans.

"Ever since I came off the show, I've been trying to keep up with Forrest because he set the tone coming off the show.

"He did excellent and I was like, 'I've got to show everybody I can do my thing as well.' And it just wasn't a reality show and I've actually got skills. So for us to be in the position that we are right now, it really shows that the show works."

STARS OF TOMORROW

Evans says those cycling through the show in the future are the stars of tomorrow.

"We're going to be the Chuck Liddells and the Randy Coutures because we're going to have those followings because of fans watching us from the ground up."

The fight will be the first title defence for Griffin, who took the belt from Jackson last July. And Griffin says he's been impressed by Evans' victories -- especially his last fight where he knocked out "The Iceman" Liddell.

"Damn. It was just damn," says Griffin of his reaction to watching the knockout.

"There might have been some more expletives too, but mostly it was damn."

Also tonight, for the third time, Silva will trade leather with Jackson.

It's been more than four years since the pair of aggressive light heavyweights have fought and much has changed. The former Pride fighters are now in the UFC, which means a cage instead of a ring and a new set of rules.

But despite having lost the first two outings, both times as a result of devastating knee strikes, Jackson says the change of venue and regulations won't have any effect on the outcome of the fight.

"I don't think there's a difference" says Jackson. " A fight is a fight. I'll fight Wanderlei in a phone booth if I have to."


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