Former light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has decided to not take up company president Dana White on his offer to try and pry the 205-pound title from newly-minted division kingpin, Lyoto Machida, opting to take on the recently dethroned "Sugar" Rashad Evans instead.
Jackson and Evans were today formally announced as the coaches for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), which begins taping its tenth season on the Spike TV network next week. It was a surprise announcement, but one that Jackson apparently was responsible for coordinating.
Here's a snip from Jackson during a media conference call today on his decision via Yahoo!Sports.com:
"I had my mind set to fight Evans. I was actually there coaching (at UFC 98) trying to get him to win the fight. I want Evans he got in my face (at UFC 96), right after my fight. That was the wrong time to get in my face."
Remember that Jackson and Evans were tentatively scheduled to collide at UFC 100 on July 11; however, an injury to interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir -- booked to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 98 on May 23 -- forced the promotion to shuffle the deck and move up Evans' first title defense.
Jackson was offered the shot immediately following his unanimous decision win over Keith Jardine in the main event at UFC 96 on March 7. He had to decline the offer, however, citing that the turnaround was too quick and he needed more time to recover from nagging injuries.
"The Dragon" made the best of the situation, scoring a sensational knockout over Evans during the second round of their championship match last weekend to remain undefeated. He appeared to be a lock to coach opposite Jackson, culminating with a big fight later in the 2009 fight season.
But that apparently all went out the window when Jackson expressed a burning desire to partake in "black on black crime" against his new found nemesis, Evans. Even though in the wake of UFC 98, Jackson "Tweeted" that he was ready for the Brazilian.
Here's a snip:
"... already prepared for machida!! should i start drinking my piss like him??"
It seems as though he had a recent change of heart ... and money (not fear) may have had a large part in his decision.
From his most recent "Tweet:"
"I'm not scared of anybody in any weight class. I'm scared of not making money! Rashad pissed me off after my last fight, so I'm gonna ..."
I guess fill in the blank, but you get the idea.
Jackson feels that there is "unfinished business" between him and Evans -- the pair descended into a legendary face-to-face jawing session after Jackson defeated Evans' good friend and training partner, "The Dean of Mean." And there is also the alleged beef that he had with "Sugar" during a recent photo shoot that may have him still miffed.
Regardless, it is what it is: Jackson vs. Evans and Machida vs. TBA.
The second half of that equation could change very soon because White indicated that an opponent (InsideFights.com has a report that Maurucio "Shogun" Rua is now under serious consideration) was already lined up and that he was simply awaiting final signatures on the bout agreements.