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'Rampage' Jackson Calls Rashad Evans Fight a Warm-Up for Title Shot

For a fight that has proved unusually difficult to put together, "Rampage" Jackson doesn't seem as though he's expecting his main event showdown with Rashad Evans at UFC 114 to be all that competitive.

In a recent interview with Fighters Only Jackson referred to the bout with his longtime rival as "a step backwards," indicating that he's more interested in a rematch with new UFC light heavyweight champ "Shogun" Rua, who scored a TKO victory over him in Pride back in 2005.

According to Jackson, fighting Evans is little more than a tune-up for the title shot that UFC president Dana White has promised to the winner of the Jackson/Evans bout.

"I feel like fighting Rashad is a step backwards, because he doesn't have the belt anymore. But if things go right, this will be a nice warm-up fight for Shogun. If everything works out it will be nice. Everybody knows I took time off; it would be stupid to go right into a title fight with Shogun so this will be a good test for me. If I lose to Rashad I don't even deserve to get my belt back!"

Not that any of us should have expected Jackson to be overly pessimistic about his chances against Evans, but it's hard to believe that even he regards this as nothing more than a "warm-up fight."

At the moment, oddsmakers favor Jackson very slightly, but the line is very close to even on many internet sportsbooks. By all accounts Jackson has gotten back in shape after a long absence from the gym during the filming of "The A-Team," but he hasn't fought since March of 2009, when he beat Keith Jardine via decision.

Getting back in shape is one thing, but getting your timing back after so long away from the cage could be another matter.

Jackson might want to talk to Lennox Lewis about what happens to fighters who return from movie roles looking for tune-up bouts. The former boxing heavyweight champ found out the hard way against Hasim Rahman that an acting gig and a pro fighting career aren't always compatible pursuits.

Especially once those four-ounce gloves start flying, it's all too easy for a warm-up to turn into a knockout.
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