Rampage: Evans a 'step backwards'

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:47 PM ET

In case you've been living under a rock for the last year, here's the deal: Quinton (Rampage) Jackson and Rashad (Sugar) Evans hate each other.

The two mixed martial artists spent a good portion of their time as coaches on the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter exchanging insults. And the derogatory running commentary has continued unabated in the months since TUF 10 ended, even when it looked like Jackson was giving up fighting to become an actor.

So, to nobody's surprise, when both men signed onto the media conference call to pump up UFC 114 Saturday in Las Vegas, they picked up right where they left off.

"(Beating Evans will) be like a moral victory for me," Jackson said. "Rashad, he has no title. He couldn't even hold onto the belt after one fight. Why am I even fighting this guy? Then I did The Ultimate Fighter and I know why I'm fighting this guy. Because I want to teach guys like this a lesson -- to keep his mouth shut when you aren't on the same level as the next man.

"It's not up there with a title shot or even a big accomplishment. Who is this guy? He has done nothing compared to what I've done. I'm the first ever undisputed champion of my sport. So fighting this guy is kind of like a step backwards."

Jackson (30-7) and Evans (14-1-1) meet in the headline bout at UFC 114. The winner will get a shot at light-heavyweight champion Mauricio (Shogun) Rua, who recently knocked out Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida at UFC 113 in Montreal to capture the title.

UFC 114 also features a co-main event between Jackson's teammate, Michael (The Count) Bisping, and Dan Miller.

Don't think the bad blood between Evans and Jackson flows one way, though. Evans said everything about Jackson's personality angers him.

"It's just the way he is -- just like that last comment," Evans said. "Who am I to fight him? Who is he to fight me? I beat Forrest (Griffin). You didn't beat Forrest, bro. You lost. You almost got finished in the second round."

Jackson dropped the light-heavyweight title in a controversial unanimous decision to Griffin (17-6) at UFC 86. Griffin went on to lose the belt at UFC 92 to Evans, who was then dethroned by Machida (16-1) at UFC 98.

Following Evans comment, Jackson immediately interrupted, claiming he didn't take Griffin seriously. The two then burst into the first of many arguments on the call.

Another yelling match erupted after Evans accused Jackson of quitting easily against Rua (19-4) at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005. In one of the more brutal beatdowns in MMA history, Rua caught Jackson in the ribs with a knee and followed it up with a series of nasty soccer kicks for the TKO victory.

"At least I won't quit like you did when you were going against Shogun," Evans said. "You quit -- just laid there like a little sucker in the corner...holding your ribs. Nothing was wrong with your ribs."

"Keep going on about these bad fights, when I didn't even train," Jackson interrupted. "Keep going off on those, please."

"Hey, I'm going by your heart when you were in there," Evans responded. "You got no heart. You're the f---ing Tin Man. Go to Oz. Go see (the wizard)."

Though they talk as if they've hated each other all their lives, the grudge began after Jackson's unanimous-decision win over Evan's teammate, Keith (The Dean of Mean) Jardine, at UFC 96. Jackson was originally given the chance to fight Evans on the card, but Evans turned the bout down. However, Evans, who was light-heavyweight champion at the time, entered the cage following the Jackson-Jardine bout and got into his nemesis' face.

Though the confrontation escalated things, Jackson admitted he didn't like Evans when they first crossed paths in June of 2004.

"I met Rashad back in the day, when he was fighting at Gladiator Challenge and he fought my boy, Hector Ramirez," Jackson said. "Hector broke his ankle in the cage and Rashad was still dancing around, playing with his nipples in those little tight shorts, acting like he was doing something.

"I thought he was a good wrestler and stuff back then, but I just didn't like his style. And then everything was cool until he got in my face after the Jardine fight.

"So I'm like, 'This guy comes in the cage after I just did my job and fought his teammate and he was supposed to be one the one in the cage.' And then I watch the pay-per-view and he commented on my fight, talking bad about me about the whole time I'm fighting.

"I'm like, 'Oh, this guy's got some nerve.'"

Following their time on TUF, the two were scheduled to fight at UFC 107 in Jackson's hometown of Memphis, Tenn. However, Jackson dropped out to play B.A. Baracus in "The A-Team."

UFC president Dana White was furious with Jackson at the time, but admitted everything worked out in the end.

"You know, it all did work out okay," White said. "It was a huge blow with the fight being in Memphis and everything else, but everything worked out.

"And Quinton actually did a real movie. It's going to be a huge hit this summer and from what I hear he did really well in it. So he got to do a great movie. It's good for him. This thing worked out. The fight still happened. There's still a lot of build up. People still want to see this fight really bad, so everything worked out."

Though the two exchanged verbal jabs throughout the course of the call, Evans said on fight night he will stay composed.

"I'm going to stay cool," Evans said. "I want to go out dangerous and just start throwing punches at him and just see where they land, but at the same time I know there's a strategy involved. So I've got to stick to the strategy.

"The best thing about this is we'll see (Saturday). That's the best thing about all of this s--- talking right now. I want you to show up and I want you to be your best."


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