Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: “I want my belt back!”
And I want to be able to grow a Don Frye moustache and do more than six pull-ups in the company of a lady friend, but we don’t always get what we want.
Despite the fact, our blessed souls will keep swinging for the fences in hopes of achieving the impossible.
As a champion or contender, Rampage is and has been far too one-dimensional throughout his career to defeat somebody as multi-dimensional as current UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones.
In the world of video games, Rampage’s skill set would be the equivalent of Atari, a solid blast from the past still pushing Pong, while Jones would be Playstation 4, Sony’s yet-to-be-seen 3D gaming system. To quell my fellow gaming nerds, I realize PS4 has only been rumored—virally on YouTube—to possess some next level 3D-game playing, but it’s as good an analogy as you need to get the point.
This Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., Jones and Rampage will finally get the opportunity to back up their verbal barrages and do the man-dance for the light-heavyweight championship at UFC 135.
Unfortunately for the former champ, the cards and odds are stacked against Rampage, and for good reason. While this fight signifies Jones’ first title defense—the 24-year-old completely tooled then champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua back in the spring of this year after being in the UFC for only three years—his senior opponent last held gold back in July 2008.
During the span of eight UFC fights, Jones has consistently proven his mental dexterity as one of the youngest and most successful Octagon competitors the company has ever produced. It doesn’t seem to matter who is standing on the other side of the cage; Jones performs nothing short of spectacular.
Whether he is fighting a seasoned veteran in Vladimir Matyushenko, Muay Thai specialists like Brandon Vera and Shogun Rua or a formidable wrestler like Matt Hamill, the Jackson Camp protégé has not cracked under the pressure. I’ll be the first to admit: Rampage’s resume is far more impressive, almost by default.
But within that list of opponents lays his weakness as a one-dimensional boxer.
Every fight, whether against Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin or Rashad Evans, Rampage has resorted to his boxing, his comfort zone. If he doesn’t cut the distance early to land those devastating hooks, the fight is all but destined for the mat, where opponents have been very successful in keeping the howlin’ street warrior down.
This will be a tremendous disadvantage against a storied state champion wrestler like Jones. Both Matyushenko and Hamill are far more versed in wrestling than Rampage—even statistically to Jones—and they got handled, tossed to the ground with ease, by the youngster.
Needless to say, if Jones decides to risk coming in on Rampage, he’ll have his choice between takedowns and judo throws, against little resistance, thanks to his superior grappling and wrestling.
That dire scenario is the only one that offers Rampage the slightest chance for victory because it involves Jones getting in close enough range en route to the clinch, where he will be more susceptible to Rampage’s punching power.
Keep in mind, Jones would only take that risk to overwhelm Rampage in the clinch; the payoff would be dominating top control on a traditionally weak ground fighter. Otherwise, the champ will most likely keep it standing—from a distance.
Jones’ abnormally long limbs provide an 84.5” reach advantage over everybody on the roster, including heavyweight man mountain Brock Lesnar, who sports an 81” reach. For Jones, his Go-Go Gadget arms allow him to thrive at creating the right amount of distance to be creatively accurate and damaging.
If Jones isn’t floating around like a back-spinning butterfly or throwing a rainbow of strikes from geometrically frustrating angles, he will be punishing Rampage’s lead leg, circa Forrest Griffin. Everybody knows Rampage is infamous for not checking leg kicks.
After a round or two of Louisville sluggers to the legs, Rampage’s mobility will suffer and his power will diminish, making him much easier to freely hit or take down. Ironically, one of Jones’ fiercest weapons in this fight has inspired Rampage’s newest nickname for the champ: “Bambi Legs.”
To sum up the analysis, Jones has too many tools at his disposal, while his opponent only uses one. The only thing predictable about the champ’s game is how efficiently destructive he is in every fight. Unless Jones finds a way to beat himself, he has a good chance of being a long-reigning, undisputed, 205-pound title holder in a division with a high champion turnover rate.
Rampage better have Ridley Scott on speed dial because come Sunday morning, he’ll be begging for a sequel.
I hate to do it to you Rampage, but…I pity the fool!
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