(Pride Final Conflict, 11/9/03)
If you’re like us, then those ESPN hype videos for Rampage-Wandy III at UFC 92 only aroused your appetite for destruction. Might as well go back in time and look at how it played out. Above is their first meeting. Fight number two (with some of those crafty Fox Sports Net edits) is after the jump. But only a fool believes that the fighters we see in these videos are the same exact ones we’ll see next Saturday night, and you aren’t a fool, are you?
Here are five variables to take into account when trying to predict the outcome of the third meeting:
1. Change of Camps: While Silva came to America to train, Jackson left. Now Wanderlei is running around a converted warehouse in Las Vegas with a snorkel in his mouth and "Rampage" is over in England grab-assing with the Wolfslair. We’ve seen Silva in action since relocating, and he looked good against Keith Jardine, but the jury’s still out on Jackson’s new crew.
2. Mind Games: Let’s be honest, no one knows for sure what’s going on in ‘Page’s head these days. He’s had a rough few months, and now he has to fight a guy who’s knocked him out twice. Everyone wants to see if Jackson still has his wits about him. Either the pressure will elevate his game, or crack him like an egg.
3. New Rules: No kicks to the head on the ground, no yellow cards, no ropes to get caught up in, no fortuitious tournament draws. The playing field is undoubtedly more level for this meeting. That should benefit Jackson, but knees in the clinch haven’t gone away.
4. Experience, Even the Bad Kind: The last time they fought was four years ago, and they’ve both been through a lot since then. Jackson gained and lost a title. Silva took a few beatings, which he had grown very unaccustomed to doing, and had to build himself back up. Jackson is certainly more skilled than he was in his Pride days, and Silva may just be more punchy. His head even seems to have become a different shape, and his speech, well, nevermind. Could the beatdowns be piling up at this point?
5. The Glare of the Spotlight: To say this fight is more high profile than either of the first two is an understatement. The sport itself is much bigger, and after Rampage’s TMZ appearance he’s nothing short of a celebrity. You could argue that this is the fight more people will remember, since many MMA fans of today have only heard about the first two. Whether that factor favors either fighter is anyone’s guess.
(Check out fight number two, slightly trimmed down)