UFC 123: Will Rampage Jackson Defeat Lyoto Machida and Win Respect?
Rampage Jackson is looking for respect and he is willing to let his fists do the talking for him. His search starts tonight as he headlines the UFC 123 card and faces off against Lyoto Machida.
Back on Sept 22, 2009 Rampage announced via his blog that he was done fighting. He said that due to maltreatment by the UFC he would be retiring. About a week later he joined the cast of the big budget remake of the A-Team and stepped into the role of B.A. Baracus (the role originally made famous by Mr.T). Things were looking good, but that wouldn’t last.
Earlier that year he had been a coach on the popular UFC reality show The Ultimate Fighter and was scheduled to fight his opposing coach Rashad Evans in December at the show’s finale. The show made its debut on September 16, 2009 and thanks to contestants like Kimbo Slice and former IFL champ Roy “Big Country” Nelson it found big ratings. However, not only did Rampage’s team get decimated by Evan’s squad in the cage, Rampage came under fire for his actions. He was criticized for his constant verbal abuse of Evan’s team member Darill Schoonover as well as his refusal to go in the ring and support his fighters when they lost. Instead of learning from the loses and teaching, he got mad and broke things. He was criticized for generally being a bad coach and giving his fighters very little practical advice. During the season Rampage and Evans developed a fierce rivalry, but due to injuries the fight didn’t happen as planned. Rampage said he would forgo his retirement to fight Evans and finally got his wish on May 29, 2010. He lost a three round decision.
While the A-team was a modest success, Hollywood didn’t come knocking Rampage’s door down. The only role currently listed for him is for a small part in a low budget martial arts film scheduled to shoot next year. This caused Rampage to, perhaps, re-evaluate his options. In March of 2010 about 8 weeks before he was to finally face off against Rashad Evans Rampage signed a new six fight contract with the UFC.
This contract starts tonight at UFC 123 and in grand fashion. Loyoto Machida is gunning for another shot at the light heavyweight title so you know he will be coming out with all guns blazing. With only one fight in the last 18 months the question is whether Rampage will be rusty and slow or whether the time off will have allowed him to get into great shape and he will be energized. A victory over Machida puts him right back in the talks for a championship fight. If Rampage is in shape and motivated tonight’s fight could be electrifying and Rampage just might find some of that respect he is looking for.
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