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UFC 114: Fans on Rampage’s side and talking heads are starting to pick Rampage to win

By Zach Arnold | May 29, 2010

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For MMA writers brave enough to make predictions earlier in the week instead of waiting at the last-minute, the feeling was that Rashad Evans would beat Quinton Jackson by decision. Now that the time has come for writers to put their asses on the line, it seems like “the safe pick” is now Jackson by KO. (I don’t know why MMA writer fight predictions have a lot of meaning.)

In this discussion between Kevin Iole & Steve Cofield of Yahoo Sports, they give their explanations on why they think Rampage will win the UFC 114 main event and why the fans hate Rashad Evans so much.

Transcript can be viewed in full-page mode.

Fan hatred of Rashad Evans

STEVE COFIELD: “So, were you surprised that Rashad (Evans) just got destroyed by the crowd?”

KEVIN IOLE: “No, I’m not surprised, I mean I wrote in my column that was up on Friday on Yahoo Sports and I said you know one sure way to get a crowd booing is to put his picture up on the big screen and certainly that’s you know what happened at the weigh-ins today, you know… I think part of what Rashad was doing with all this trash talking and everything was trying to appeal to the crowd that maybe is not fond of Rampage’s you know sense of humor and the way he carries himself and maybe try to you know appeal to that you know segment of the audience. You know… his appeal is ‘hey, I’m a college educated guy, I dress well, I speak well, I’m aware of social issues,’ you know I think that’s kind of what he was going for but no, I wasn’t at all surprised that you know that they booed him because even though I find Rashad to be a very good guy and a very fascinating guy, I have absolutely no problems with him you know. It seems like the public does not like him and has not liked him for a long time so I wasn’t surprised by it.”

STEVE COFIELD: “I think the fans love Rampage because he’s been around a lot longer and he’s more of a fight fan’s fighter. I mean fighters are traditionally gritty guys and if you know they speak more like they’re from the streets people embrace that.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Oh, I agree, and I mean I think you know I wrote this in my column about Rashad, too, I mean when you look at Rampage’s been in bigger fights against bigger name opponents and more dramatic type fights and you know I just think you know he’s been around longer, he’s had more you know the bigger history for people to watch you know you buy The Best of PRIDE DVDs and Rampage is all over those. And you know he has a history with a lot of the fans that Rashad just doesn’t have. Rashad, you know, has really had a couple of what you call really big fights starting with Tito (Ortiz). You know he obviously Forrest (Griffin), (Lyoto) Machida, and Thiago Silva you know but I don’t think that compares to the kind of people that Rampage has fought you know Shogun Rua, Chuck (Liddell), which obviously Rashad fought Chuck, but he fought Chuck multiple times, Shogun, Wanderlei Silva, and you go up and down the line and Rampage has had been in there with some really big names, Dan Henderson, and I think he just trumps Rashad in that area and that’s kind of where the people you know they recognize that, they know him better than they know Rashad and he’s a guy that you know he’s a jokester and he’s a guy that people you know tend to like.”

Why will Rampage Jackson win the fight?

STEVE COFIELD: “The fans are on the side of Rampage. It sounds to me like a lot of the media for some reason are on the side of Rashad or are they viewing this objectively? Have they been swayed somehow because there’s a lot of momentum from the talking heads on the side of Rashad and I know you and I agree in that we actually think this fight is in the advantage of Rampage.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, I like Rampage in the fight. You know Kenny Florian whom I respect greatly, the UFC Lightweight on ESPN’s MMA Live, he picked Rashad. I was surprised by that. I just think that Rampage is a bigger, stronger guy and I believe that if Rampage connects he’s going to knock him out. Rashad’s been a little bit chinny throughout his career. You know the one thing that when you look at the fight, Steve, I think you say… you have to be concerned. Rampage has never been the most dedicated guy, he’s never spent the most amount of time in training and you know even out of camp you know worrying about what he eats and worrying, I mean he was 251 pounds when he started this particular training camp so you know I saw him in February in Australia and he was smoking, you know, concerned about you know what he puts into his body but you know he is a phenomenal athlete when he gets in shape, I mean he’s one of those guys that you know he can do some things other people can’t do. So, the concern would be that he’s got to have ring rust, you know, he didn’t take it seriously enough coming back. They both looked ready today at the weigh-in. I think he’s going to be ready to perform and you know I expect him to win the fight.”

STEVE COFIELD: “I think Rashad closed a lot of those gaps, a lot of the motivational gaps with all the trash talk on the show and since the show.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Oh, there’s no doubt, I mean if Rampage was going to be asleep you know it would have been back in March of last year but then you know Rashad got in his face right after the (Keith) Jardine fight, he was in his face throughout the show, you know kind of challenged him how many times on the show, you know and now throughout the promotion of this fight you know I mean he called him an Uncle Tom, he also called him a Sambo, I mean pretty difficult things to say to an African American man. And Rampage held his temper, but you know he’s seething and I think that you know you’re going to see the results of his anger in the cage. You know, the concern is if you’re on Rampage’s side, can he channel his anger and can he fight Rashad with a smart head and with the correct kind of game plan instead of just going out of his game plan and letting emotions take over. If he can stick to the game plan and kind of fight with a cool head and react the way he normally would you know, I think he’s fine and I expect him to be able to do that.”

UFC undercard thoughts and predictions

STEVE COFIELD: “OK. Let’s go rapid-fire through some of the PPV undercard fights. Diego Sanchez. Any trouble going back to 170 facing a guy like John Hathaway?”

KEVIN IOLE: “He didn’t have any trouble having making the weight. I think he’s going to have trouble in the fight. I actually like John Hathaway in the fight and you know I would like John Hathaway you know under a lot of circumstances but certainly with Diego coming off the loss that he had, I think Hathaway’s a bad match-up for him. You know, I’m going to go with John Hathaway in this fight.”

STEVE COFIELD: “All right, I noticed another one of the dreaded t-shirt weigh ins, Mike Russow who’s a bad body guy safe to say. Todd Duffee is actually a good body guy because he’s ridiculous at 6’3″ and 253. Does Russow have any chance in this fight? Obviously he takes it down and can grind things out. Do you see Duffee having trouble with takedown defense?”

KEVIN IOLE: “I mean I think Russow has a good chance, I mean I do, you know, think Russow has a chance to win. I’m picking Duffee because I just think you know he’s kind of a superior athlete and I think he’s one of those guys that you know is going to be the next in the line of Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Shane Carwin, guys that came into the UFC you know, had a couple of fights on the undercard or on the lower end of the main card and then you know exploded into a top-level fighter. I think Todd Duffee’s that kind of guy. Real powerful guy. But does Russow have a chance? Absolutely because you know he can grind it out. He’s fought in PRIDE, he’s fought in the UFC before, he’s a veteran guy, he’s a smart guy and he can frustrate Todd Duffee no doubt about it. But you know as well as I do, Steve, you know that anybody’s that trained with Duffee, anybody’s that seen him raves about him. Frank Mir absolutely loves him and can’t say enough good things about him. You know Frank is a smart guy and knows his fighters. I’m going to take Todd Duffee via stoppage. But you know to answer your direct question, I do say Russow has a chance.”

STEVE COFIELD: “Mike Bisping and Dan Miller. I think Bisping’s going to roll in this one. I don’t think that Miller’s going to get him down easily. I think Bisping’s stand-up is a lot better than Millers.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, I mean I think first of all that Bisping has pretty good takedown defense. I mean, looking you know he fought Matt Hamill and against the Hammer it wasn’t like he was being slammed down all the time, you know he fought Rashad, same thing, a very close fight. You know both of those fights could have gone either way. They were both close controversial decisions. We know Bisping won that Matt Hamill fight which led to a huge uproar. But yeah, so I think Bisping’s takedown defense is better than you think. You know I think his stand-up is very good, his Muay Thai is good. I expect him to knock out Dan Miller.”

STEVE COFIELD: “And in the lead-in fight, I mean is there anything that we can say positive about Jason Brilz? He is a decent takedown fighter but his athleticism at this level against Little Nog, I think he’s going to have a tough time.”

KEVIN IOLE: “Yeah, so do I. I mean I think you know Little Nog, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, is one of the elite 205 pounders. It’s amazing, if you sit there and you try to rank 1-10 the Light Heavyweights, it’s pretty hard to do because there’s a lot of really good Light Heavyweights. Some divisions you know after 2 or 3 there aren’t that many good guys, but in this division there’s a lot of them and Nogueira’s definitely one of them. He’s got big-time power, got a lot of other skills in the fight. I like Nogueira by knockout.”

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

One Response to “UFC 114: Fans on Rampage’s side and talking heads are starting to pick Rampage to win”

  1. shootor says:

    No offense to either Iole or Cofield, but you shouldn’t take the time to write a transcript for their chats. Zach, you do an awesome job transcribing some great conversations for us readers, but these guys just aren’t real heads and bring little to the table.

    Y!’s mma writing is both meh and blah.

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