Rampage doesn’t think much of it. Notable quote:
To be honest, I don’t think Chuck improved much. I’ve been watching his fights. I’ve been training and staying where I did last time…I don’t think Chuck improved that much, those same punches. His cardio don’t look good, he looks old, he still got a beer belly, I see a few stretch marks, I don’t see no improvement.
There are two ways to look at this statement.
The first is to say Rampage is making the same mistake as Jeremy Horn prior to their rematch. Horn claimed that the Chuck he was about to fight was the same Chuck Liddell as before but with slightly more polished skills. I believe his statement was that Chuck was simply a better version of himself whereas Horn was a completely different fighters. Horn’s assessment may be right. Chuck does seem to just be a slightly better version of himself. But that may be just enough for Chuck to dominate. Say what you will about Chuck’s improvement or ability, but the fact of the matter is he gets the job done and does it with an exclamation point.
The other way to look it is to take a look at Rampage’s attitude. People forget that Rampage was counted out a lot in his career in PRIDE. No one expected him to do well against Sakuraba, Arona was supposed to finish him easily, and everyone thought Vovchanchyn at 205lbs. was going to be unstoppable. Rampage knew he was being set up and didn’t care. He didn’t care who his opponent was. His concern was showing up, executing his gameplan, and making opponents fight his fight. So here we are again with Rampage being counted out, albeit on slightly more reasonable grounds. But the point is that Rampage’s dismissal of Chuck’s much-hyped improvement reminds me of his attitude going into those fights he was supposed to lose. He has the same “veil of ignorance” confidence: it doesn’t matter who his opponent is because, regardless, they are going to be fighting Rampage’s fight.
We’ll see what happens next weekend.
HT: Lay and Pray
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