One of the most widely anticipated
fights of 2011 will take place on September 24th.
fight is here, or is it? Is this truly
one of the blockbusters we dream about?
I think not but it will be an interesting fight nonetheless. While I don’t mean to throw a wet blanket on
Jones’s first title defense, I feel a match against Rashad Evans would have
made for more compelling theater (he trains with Jones) and is quite frankly a
better fight. That being said, a victory
over Rampage would quell the chorus of doubters and establish Jon Jones as a
legitimate champion instead of simply a rising star.
Rampage Jackson (32-8 with 1 loss by
Jackson firmly entrenched himself as a force to be reckoned with when he
knocked out Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 back in ’07 to win the UFC Light
Heavyweight title. He certainly came to
the UFC with a boatload of street cred as a big name in the PRIDE organization
but his star shone brightest on the UFC stage.
Rampage is 7-2 in the UFC and he has racked up two wins in a row since a
disappointing performance against his nemesis, Rashad Evans.
exceptional power and his reliance on that brute force may be his greatest
asset but it is also his greatest liability.
The fact is, Rampage is strictly too one dimensional. He has not had a win by submission in over
seven years and that was by knees to the body.
If you want to learn when Rampage actually tapped somebody out via
choke, you would have to go back to a time when the twin towers were still
standing, June 17th of 2001 against the immortal Kenneth Williams.
integrated enough BJJ into his repertoire to expertly defense the brilliant mat
games of more highly skilled wrestlers and jiu-jitsu artists. Amazingly, he has only been tapped out once
in his entire career and that was to legendary submission artist Kazushi
Sakuraba when both plied their trade in the PRIDE organization. Rampage likes to stand up and go toe to toe
with the fiercest punchers and strikers in the game…because he is one.
There is no
doubt he can throw with anyone as 14 of his 32 victories have come by
knockout. But it should also be noted
that 4 of his last 5 wins have been by decision and not by KO. Could this be due to a better caliber of
competition in the UFC or could it be that Rampage, at 33 years of age, may not
be able to catch his opponents as cleanly as in years past? There is no doubt he still possesses bone
jarring power but whether or not he can still harness the speed to unleash that
power may be in question.
Jon Bones Jones (13-1 only loss by
It’s hard to
fathom but there are still Jones doubters in the land of MMA. You heard them before his fight with rising
phenom Ryan Bader, whom he choked out, and again when he fought for the title
against Shogun at UFC 128 in March of this year. Jones dominated the fight from start up until
2:37 of the 3rd round when the referee mercifully ended the
hellacious beating that the champ was receiving from his lethal young
Jon Jones is
a flat out, one man wrecking crew who can beat you so many different ways he
reminds me of a Swiss Army knife. He’s
got the longest reach in UFC history at almost 85 inches (compared to just 73
for Rampage) and strikes from more angles than a protractor. His ground game is superb, his elbows are so
dangerous they’re criminal and his speed is blinding. Eight of his wins have been by knockout,
three by submission and two went to the judges’ scorecards.
blemish on his record was a DQ to Matt Hamill when Jones assailed him with
consecutive “midnight to six” elbow strikes which were ruled illegal. Had that not been the case, Hamill was
literally seconds from either blacking out or being rescued by the ref. A bloodied and battered Hamill could not even
make it to the center of the cage to get his hand raised. And this is the guy who “beat” Jones?!
Rampage’s recent fights
examine their last two fights, we can get a pretty good idea of where these two
fighters are in their careers. In his
most recent fight, Rampage handled the wrestler Matt Hamill with relative ease. He was not daunted by Hamill’s prowess on the
ground and did an admirable job stuffing his takedowns and generally punishing
Hamill when the fight stood up. When
the match ended, there was no mystery who had won. The judges were unanimous in their decision
and Jackson’s hand was raised in victory.
that in November of ‘10, Rampage fought the former UFC Light Heavyweight champ
Lyoto Machida and took as well as he gave.
Both fighters exchanged big shots and weathered storms most fighters
could not. But that’s why they are the
elite of their division. Rampage worked
well in the clinch but Machida gained advantage on the ground. When the judge’s revealed their score,
Rampage was awarded a controversial split decision.
Jon Jones’ recent fights
After a 1st
round demolition of battle tested cage veteran Vladimir “The Janitor”
Matyushenko, Jones was pitted against fellow phenom and rising star, Ryan
Bader. Bones dominated Round 1 and then
seamlessly blended an array of Muay Thai strikes accompanied by a lightning
quick lead jab followed by a thunderous head kick that grazed Bader’s head
before the fight hit the mat. Moments
later, Jones would submit Bader by guillotine choke at 4:20 of Round 2.
Evans had to pull out of his title fight with Shogun, it was rumored that
Rampage received a call before Jon Jones.
Unfortunately, the only rampaging Jackson had done was through buffet
lines across North America and to shed all that excess baggage within four
weeks was deemed too daunting a prospect by the new Krispy Kreme spokesman. Jon Jones then got the call and the
inevitable coronation commenced.
the first two rounds to soften the champion up but in the third round exploded
with a brutal symphony of whipping leg kicks and organ puncturing knee strikes. With Rua in panic mode, the
young challenger then took the fight to the mat and launched a dizzying array
of stinging elbows and big looping punches while in the mount position. Rua struggled to get to his feet before Jones
put him down for good and claimed the UFC Light Heavyweight strap.
So what happens at UFC 135?
Jackson and Jones share two common
opponents. Jackson decisioned Hamill in
convincing fashion while Jones almost killed him before being
disqualified. Next, Jones TKO’ed Mauricio
“Shogun” Rua to claim the UFC Light Heavyweight championship back in March
while Rampage was TKO’ed by Rua in
March of ’05.
will be fought exactly how Jones chooses to fight it. He will give Jackson a taste of his
unorthodox striking angles which include haymakers, knees, murderous elbows and
spinning backfists. If that fails, he’ll
just take him down to the mat and make life miserable where at worst Jones will
score points and at best will submit Jackson.
The only unanswered question concerning Jones is his ability to take a
punch. Nobody has really rocked his
world in the Octagon and I’m betting that streak stays alive. Rampage
has a punchers chance but the smart
money says Jones by a knockout.