Despite his heated rivalry with Quinton Jackson just one year ago, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is picking Jackson to come away with a win over Matt Hamill in the main event of UFC 130 this weekend in Las Vegas.
An admitted fan of Hamill, Evans said he'd love to see him break into the top 10 with a high-profile win Saturday -- but if Jackson is on top of his game, it will be tough.
"I love Hamill. I like the way he fights and I like his story," Evans told ESPN.com. "But I think Rampage should get it done.
"It all depends though. I haven't heard anything out of his camp, as far as how he's mentally doing. Rampage is all mind. Sometimes if he goes in there and his mind isn't right, it's almost like he throws a tantrum just by not fighting the way he can. If he goes in there with his mind right, I think Rampage will win the fight."
Both Hamill and Jackson figure to have plenty to gain from a win. Although he's been with the UFC since 2006, Hamill has never been considered an absolute elite member of the 205-pound division. Defeating Jackson in a headlining pay-per-view fight would be a big step toward title contention.
For Jackson, a dominant performance could place him right in line for a shot at current champion Jon Jones. Evans was supposed to get that shot in August, but Jones pulled out due to injury. Hot prospect Phil Davis has stepped in to take his place, leaving a future fight between Evans and Jones with many variables.
Evans, who defeated Jackson by unanimous decision when they fought in May 2010, says Hamill has the tools to do the same thing this year. Stylistically, though, Hamill better have implemented a few changes.
"For Hamill to win, he's going to have to bring his punches back," Evans said. "One thing Hamill does is he leans on his punches. When he throws the jab, he leans on it. Rampage is very good at the counter punch because he catches whatever you throw and, if you don't bring it right back, he's going to hit where you just left that punch.
"So, if Hamill is leaning on his jab, Rampage is going to catch it, he's going to roll, and he's going to land the right. Can Hamill take Rampage down? Probably. But Rampage is hard to take down. He's probably got the strongest hips I've felt at 205."
Evans' entire prediction is, once again, based on Jackson's mindset coming into the fight. Always a tough read, Jackson has been fairly no-nonsense as of late, which makes Evans think he's ready to go.
"Last time he was real quiet before a fight was when he fought Wanderlei Silva, and it didn't turn out well for Wanderlei," Evans said. "Looks like he might be focused for this one."