After months of hype, thousands of explatives, and more emasculating threats SpikeTV’s bleep button could handle, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Rashad Evans will finally meet up at UFC 114, which comes to you live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this Saturday. As seems to be the standard for a UFC pay per view event these days, The Ultimate Fighter will be well represented, as a total of five former winners will battle.
Click more to check out our preview of this event’s main card.
Diego Sanchez (21-3) vs. John Hathaway (12-0)
After going 2-1 in the lightweight division and a failed title shot against BJ Penn, Diego Sanchez makes his return to 170lbs after a two year layoff. Sanchez had a good amount of success in the welterweight division after winning the maiden season of The Ultimate Fighter, but as he ran into better wrestlers (see: Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck), it became clear that ‘The Nightmare’ did not belong. Sanchez is a well-groomed jiu jitsu practitioner and a hell of a fighter, but those same roadblocks lay in wait for him. If he does not evolve, he will remain in that second tier of fighters for the rest of his career.
Serving as Diego’s foil is John Hathaway, a former rugby player who is entering unquestionably the biggest fight of his career. Hathaway carries a perfect record into this fight, coming off back to back decision victories over Rick Story and fellow Brit Paul Taylor. Despite being a professional rugby player in England, Hathaway was drawn to the MMA after seeing a UFC fight on TV. Since then, he has transformed what skills he used as a rugby star into ability inside the cage, possessing strong takedowns and solid ground and pound.
…Diego Sanchez to use his experience to outclass Hathaway in just about every facet of this fight. What makes Sanchez such a great fighter is that he is strong in almost every aspect of MMA. He can strike, he can wrestle, and he can work the ground. Hathaway has raw talent, but raw talent will only get you so far.
What we think:
Rich Keefe – Diego Sanchez def. John Hathaway via Unanimous Decision
Nick Cattles – Diego Sanchez def. John Hathaway via TKO in Round 2
Josh Deering – Diego Sanchez def. John Hathaway via TKO in Round 3
Smitty – Diego Sanchez def. John Hathaway via Unanimous Decision
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (18-3) vs. Jason Brilz (18-2-1)
Perhaps no fighter in MMA has been victimized by another’s success than Antonio Rogerio Nogueira has been by his own brother, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. An excellent striker and a BJJ black belt, ‘Little Nog’ really isn’t so little. Rather, his resume is quite huge, with wins over Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem (twice), and most recently a knockout victory in his UFC debut over Luiz Arthur Cane. Now, ‘Minotouro’ is finally getting the credit and attention that he deserves, as he makes his way up the light heavyweight ladder.
Is there a bigger nightmare for Dana White than one of his bigger stars going down a couple of weeks before a fight? Probably not, but when guys like Forrest Griffin get hurt, guys like Jason Brilz always seem to be willing to step up. Whether that is smart or not in this instance is debatable, but there’s no denying the man has testicular fortitude. Brilz is a very accomplished wrestler with a respectable resume (even if you beat Phil Baroni a dozen times, 18-2-1 is nothing to sneeze at). Nonetheless, Brilz is a standout wrestler (and wrestling coach) who has had some success in the UFC, despite being reluctant to commit full time to a career in MMA.
…Nogueira to use this fight as a stepping stone towards a bigger name fight. The Forrest Griffin matchup was horrible for the former champ and a great one for ‘Little Nog’. It really could have propelled him to the top of the division. Instead, he is going to have to wait a bit longer to face someone on his level.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Jason Brilz via TKO in Round 1
Nick Cattles – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Jason Brilz via Submission in Round 2
Josh Deering – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Jason Brilz via TKO in Round 2
Smitty – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira def. Jason Brilz via TKO in Round 1
Todd Duffee (6-0) vs. Mike Russow (12-1 1NC)
If I say the name Todd Duffee, the first (and probably only) thing that comes to mind is his 7-second dismantling of Tim Hague at UFC 102. Now that his spot is forever cemented in future UFC highlight packages, Duffee embarks on climbing the rungs of UFC’s heavyweight ladder. To this point, only one of his fights has made it out of the first round, and he has finished all six with a knockout. Its safe to say Duffee’s comfort zone resides standing up.
Mike Russow is a well-traveled fighter who brings a 1-0 UFC record to this fight. Originally scheduled to fight Duffee last year, Russow now gets his crack and the rising star. He represents a foil to Todd Duffee’s violent stand-up game, as 8 of his 12 wins have come via submission. While his stand-up is lacking, Russow makes up for it on the ground with a plus wrestling background and jiu jitsu game to boot. The problem will be getting the fight there.
…Duffee to show why, despite both being bright prospects, his ceiling is much higher than Russow’s. Russow won’t be on any posters anytime soon, but he can bring a hell of a fight in the heavyweight division. Duffee is just too good standing up and will likely be able to dictate where this fight goes. If he can keep it vertical, there is no reason to think that he will lose.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Todd Duffee def. Mike Russow via KO in Round 1
Nick Cattles – Todd Duffee def. Mike Russow via KO in Round 1
Josh Deering – Todd Duffee def. Mike Russow via TKO in Round 2
Smitty – Todd Duffee def. Mike Russow via KO in Round 2
Michael Bisping (18-3) vs. Dan Miller (11-3 1NC)
In sports like football and baseball, home field advantage can have a great impact on the outcome of a game. In MMA? Generally not so much…but when you look at Michael Bisping’s recent resume, you have to wonder. In three and a half years, Bisping has only won one fight outside of the UK, going 5-0 in that stretch in England and 1-3 outside his homeland. Coincidence? Maybe…but there is no denying Bisping is a well groomed fighter with heavy hands. After losing 2 of his last 3, he will be an angry fighter on Saturday.
Dan Miller sure has some rough luck. The BJJ black belt first ran into current number 1 contender Chael Sonnen on short notice after Yushin Okami backed out of their fight at UFC 98, which led to a decision loss. His next fight was a classic strength vs. strength battle, as he faced perhaps the number 1 BJJ practitioner in the world and former number 1 contender, Demian Maia, another loss. And now? He gets world class striker Michael Bisping. The road certainly does not get any easier.
…Bisping to try and keep the fight upright, where Miller’s mediocre-at-best striking will be apparent to all. If Miller can keep moving on the ground and not get smothered by Bisping, he could pull out a submission victory, but Bisping is a smart fighter who will know better. Both fighters need a win badly…Bisping’s will should overcome.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Dan Miller def. Michael Bisping via Submission in Round 2
Nick Cattles – Dan Miller def. Michael Bisping via Submission in Round 2
Josh Deering – Michael Bisping def. Dan Miller via Unanimous Decision
Smitty – Michael Bisping def. Dan Miller via TKO in Round 2
Quinton Jackson (30-7) vs. Rashad Evans (14-4-1)
After a layoff of over a year, one of the most entertaining and skilled fighters in the world makes his return to the Octagon. Quinton Jackson is that clichéd all around fighter…he can throw hands, he can wrestle, and lord knows he can slam the bejesus out of an opponent. He’s a legend in the sport and hungry to get his title back (why does BJ Penn get an immediate rematch after a controversial decision and Rampage has not?) The one knock on Rampage has been his commitment to fighting and tendency to take an opponent lightly, much the same as Penn. The story of this fight for Jackson will be whether or not the past couple of months of trash talking have been to get ready for his opponent or to simply hype up his ‘A-Team’ movie.
Another former light heavyweight champion who has yet to get his rematch, Rashad Evans presents the same challenges as Rampage. A top-notch striker out of Greg Jackson’s world famous camp, Rashad has looked damn impressive until his knockout loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 98. Coupled with his lackluster performance against Thiago Silva, Evans’ ability to execute a well thought-out gameplan has come into question, which is excusable when you’re on the preliminary card but not in a main event.
…this fight to come down to one thing: preparation. At their best, Rampage is the better fighter, although both fighters share similar strengths. But after such a long layoff and his eyes on Hollywood, Rampage’s dedication has to be questioned. Despite recently signing a six-fight contract, will he be 100% ready for this fight? On the other hand, will Rashad come up with a successful gameplan an actually implement it? Will he approach this fight with his head and not his heart?With the heated rivalry that exists between these two and a title shot on the line, its almost insane to think either wouldn’t be prepared for this fight. But there is a track record with these guys, so you have to wonder.
What We Think:
Rich Keefe – Quinton Jackson def. Rashad Evans via KO in Round 1
Nick Cattles – Quinton Jackson def. Rashad Evans via KO in Round 2
Josh Deering – Rashad Evans def. Quinton Jackson via Split Decision
Smitty – Rashad Evans def. Quinton Jackson via Unanimous Decision