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A glance at next month’s UFC 135 card

Rashad Evans awaits winner of Jon Jones vs. Rampage Jackson

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Sam Morris

Quinton Jackson smiles after defeating Matt Hamill at UFC 130 Saturday, May 28, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Get ready for a triangle of trash talk leading into next month’s UFC 135.

The main event of the card slated for Sept. 24 at the Pepsi Center in Denver pits Jon Jones (13-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-8 MMA, 7-2 UFC) for the light heavyweight championship. As the 24-year old Jones has risen up the ranks and captured the title, he’s become more open and willing to verbally spar with other fighters.

“There will always be excuses,” Jones told Jackson at a recent press conference to promote the fight. “I’m sure after I beat you it will be, ‘You didn’t fight the PRIDE Rampage, you fought the movie star Rampage.’ ”

The always-outspoken Jackson had a quick retort.

“Ain’t going to need excuses after this fight,” the 33-year old veteran said. “I’m not going to need one. You’re going to need a bunch of them.”

Two opponents trading words before their bout is nothing unique. At UFC 135, however, the loudest mouth might belong to an uninvolved third party.

Rashad Evans (16-1-1 MMA, 11-1-1 UFC) locked up a chance to fight the winner of Jones vs. Jackson at UFC 133 last weekend. Evans is a sworn enemy of both men at UFC 135.

His feud with Jackson goes back two years to when they faced off as coaches on the 10th season of “The Ultimate Fighter”. Evans previously served as a mentor to Jones, but felt betrayed when the champion welcomed a fight between the two earlier this year.

After Evans defeated Tito Ortiz last weekend, he gave fans a taste of what they can come to expect by calling out both fighters.

On Jones: “He didn’t want to fight me the first time. Jon knows what happened when we trained.”

On Jackson: “Rampage does move like Frankenstein. He’s not what he used to be in some areas.”

Read below for the other fights booked for UFC 135.

Welterweight Bout: Matt Hughes (45-8 MMA, 18-6 UFC) vs. Diego Sanchez (23-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) The fan favorite Sanchez receives a “dream fight” against Hughes, the UFC Hall of Famer, in the co-main event.

Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi (32-7 MMA, 1-2 UFC) vs. Nate Diaz (13-7 MMA, 8-5 UFC) Diaz meets the former PRIDE champion in his return to the 155-pound division.

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Travis Browne throws a punch at Stefan Struve during UFC 130 Saturday, May 28, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Brown won by knockout.

Heavyweight Bout: Travis Browne (11-0-1 MMA, 2-0-1 UFC) vs. Rob Broughton (15-5-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) Each of Browne’s last five victories have come via first round knockout, but Broughton has proven tough and shown an ability to take strikes.

Heavyweight Bout: Ben Rothwell (31-7 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Mark Hunt (6-7 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Hunt is a former kickboxing champion, while Rothwell’s strongest area is his wrestling.

Featherweight Bout: Manvel Gamburyan (11-6 MMA, 2-4 UFC) vs. Diego Nunes (16-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Nunes and Gamburyan each lost their last fight to a notable lightweight who dropped to featherweight for the first time — Kenny Florian and Tyson Griffin, respectively.

Middleweight Bout: Nick Ring (12-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) vs. Tim Boetsch (13-4 MMA, 4-3 UFC) One of these men should shoot themselves into the upper half of the 185-pound division with a win here.

Lightweight Bout: Tony Ferguson (11-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Aaron Riley (30-12-1 MMA, 3-4 UFC) Ferguson, the most recent champion of “The Ultimate Fighter”, meets a veteran in his first fight outside of the reality show.

Bantamweight Bout: Damacio Page (15-6 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Norifumi Yamamoto (18-4 MMA, 0-1 UFC) Page and Yamamoto each lost in their octagon debut to a top fighter in the division — Brian Bowles and Demetrious Johnson, respectively.

Light Heavyweight Bout: James Te Huna (14-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) vs. Ricardo Romero (11-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Te Huna and Romero will both feel added pressure to win after suffering first round stoppage losses in their last appearances.

Bantamweight Bout: Cole Escovedo (17-7 MMA, 0-1 UFC) vs. Takeya Mizugaki (14-6-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) With Mizugaki known as a striker and Escovedo having strong grappling laurels, this fight presents a style contrast.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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