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Rashad Evans says Rampage rivalry won’t fade

While nothing is scheduled, Evans believes fight with Jackson will eventually happen

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Justin M. Bowen

Rashad Evans

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As it turns out, maybe not getting to fight Quinton Rampage Jackson next week at UFC 107 was the best thing that could have happened to Rashad Evans.

Because before Evans can ever meet his heated rival in the Octagon, he needs time to convert one more person to his side of the battle.

His mom.

“My mom’s on Rampage’s side. She’s cheering for Rampage,” Evans said with a laugh. “She’s always saying, ‘Ruuh-shawd, be nice to Rampage! He’s so funny!’ I’m like, ‘Ma, who cares if he’s funny?’”

“Ruuh-shawd,” continued Evans, in his mother impersonation. “Get me a Rampage shirt!”

Evans can kid about the rivalry, but he admits that watching himself argue with Jackson during the last episodes of “The Ultimate Fighter” this season reminded him of how bad things had gotten toward the end of filming the show.

“It didn’t bother me at first," Evans said. "It was kind of funny until I saw the last two episodes and then I got mad. I found myself getting hot and livid again because I was just thinking, ‘Man. I want to fight this dude so bad.’”

Although the rivalry began prior to the filming of the show, it definitely blossomed into something serious while the two were serving as opposing coaches on the reality television series.

The first episode began with a scene of the two insulting each other from inside the TUF gym, but it appeared to be more of a humorous exchange.

As the show continued, however, Evans said, the encounters became more hostile, pushing him so far as to consider attacking Jackson while the cameras were rolling.

“It all started playfully, but there was a mean undertone to the whole thing,” Evans said. He said he talked to his coaches one day and thought about punching him in the face.

"He'd never expect it. I was rationalizing it in my head," he said. “It was my assistant coach (Trevor) Wittman who said, ‘No, you can’t do that. Are you crazy?’”

Because the two couldn’t physically fight, it seemed like Evans and Jackson turned to different ways to get to one another.

Evans focused on coaching his team to victories over Team Rampage, winning all but one of the show’s first round of fights.

Although Jackson at one point declared he didn’t care about his team’s losses because he was a fighter and not a coach, Evans remembers feeling like he had gotten under his skin.

“It was good, not only for myself because I brought my boys along, but because it made Rampage feel bad,” Evans said. “He started to act like a quitter, saying he didn’t care. I was like, ‘Dude, if you don’t care, why are you breaking doors?’”

For Jackson, it seemed pulling pranks was his weapon of choice to Evans on the show.

At different points in filming, Jackson filled Evans’s car with live chickens, delivered a demeaning painting of his entire team and painted the walls to his locker room bright pink.

Evans says he and his coaches talked about pranking Jackson back, but their ideas weren’t approved by the show.

“We thought about it. We actually had some good pranks, but the pranks we had were devilish,” Evans said. “The producer said we couldn’t do them...They were thing that would have been embarrassing, but production wouldn’t let us do it.”

With no cameras for Evans and Jackson to pull pranks on one another and argue for, there’s a chance that the rivalry could fade.

Fans saw it happen with Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, whose rivalry fell under the radar when the two didn’t fight immediately after coaching against one another in the sixth season of the show.

While Evans sees the logic in that, he said that if and when he ever gets to fight Jackson, the feelings the two had for one another on the show will have no problem coming to the surface again.

“I think that when we get a chance to fight, we’re still going to be upset and ready to get it on,” Evans said. “That animosity is still going to be there, because we just don’t like each other.

“I could see him walk into a room and I start getting ready to throw down. The hair raises on the back of my neck because I know he’s going to say something. I just want to crack him.”

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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