Last week the idea floating around was that the next 205 lbs title shot wouldn’t go to the man who claimed he desperately wanted his belt back, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Instead Rampage will coach TUF 10 against Rashad Evans and face the former champion at season’s end. The next title shot will go to former Pride superstar Shogun Rua. Many wondered if Rampage was ducking Machida after watching his dismantling of Rashad Evans from cageside at UFC 98. Regardless how you interpret Rampage’s new found lost desire for the belt, having Shogun fight for the belt makes the most money for the UFC and all the fighters involved.
The UFC believes Machida will hold the title for a long time, something the 205 lbs division severely lacks. As much as having a new title holder every few months creates new stars within the division, the game of UFC title hot potato eventually loses some steam and gives the impression that anyone can win the belt on any given day. Machida is here to solve that problem and the UFC is banking on it.
Rampage vs. Evans will be a huge money maker. The two got face to face after the main event at UFC 96 have expressed their dislike for one another recently. They will have plenty of time to hype their fight on Season 10 of TUF, where they will squabble and bicker as opposite coaches on their way to a ratings success. It’s also the fight most fans want to see, and the momentum would be lost if Rampage would face Machida first and suffer the same fate Evans did last week.
Solution? Bring in Shogun to face the undefeated champion. Some fans questioned how Shogun was deserving of a title shot so early in his UFC career. Those same fans should be reminded that Shogun was the number 1 fighter in the world before coming to the UFC, has won 2 of 3 in the UFC, looked impressive in his last fight with Chuck Liddell and most importantly – there is no one else that makes any sense right now.
The UFC will throw an unprepared Shogun in with Machida and whatever the outcome, they still have a gigantic fight between Rampage and Evans. The winner of Rampage and Evans fights for the title for another huge fight. Any other scenario the UFC is cheating themselves and the fighters out of bigger pay days.
The UFC is a business just like anything else and as much as Rampage “Want my belt back!” it sounds like he wants his pay day just a little bit more. So does the UFC and no one will blame them for that.