How do you stop a man who can outwrestle Matt Hammill and out-strike Shogun Rua? Rampage Jackson is the man expected to be given the mission of finding an answer to that riddle as he looks set to face Jon Jones sometime in September.
light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is to make his first title defence against former champ Rampage Jackson in a fight likely to take place at UFC 135.
So is Rampage the man to beat this seemingly unstoppable fighter? Well, if you are to look at the opinions on the MMA forums, the overwhelming majority of fans believe he can’t.
Jackson is coming off a unanimous decision victory against Hammill at UFC 130. In the fight, Jackson made a statement by showing he could stuff Hammill’s takedowns.
After the Evans fight, Rampage had to show that he had improved his wrestling if he was to be considered for a title shot. The fact that Rampage was able stop to Hammill’s takedowns is more significant than the fact he couldn’t get the knockout. However, you have to wonder how a clumsy striker like Hammill can stand with Rampage for 15 minutes and live to tell the tale.
Unlike Hammill, Jones will be able to set his takedowns up with strikes as he won’t be afraid to stand with Rampage. Rampage will, as ever, look to keep the fight standing and I wouldn’t be surprised if Greg Jackson concocts a game plan for Jones that includes taking the former PRIDE star down. In fact, they may adopt a strategy that resembles something very similar to the plan Rashad had for his last fight. Jabs and takedowns.
In order to hit Jones, Rampage will have to get past a pawing jab to get within range. If he does get into the pocket, Jones has shown how comfortable he is in the clinch and how deadly his knees and elbows are from within it. Not only vicious striking but Jones has shown how he can pull off judo trips and flips to get fighters to the ground.
The one thing Rampage does have in his favour though is one punch knockout power. If he finds his right hand a home on Jones’ jaw, we just may have a new champion. Rampage has an above average “punchers chance” and Jones may very well grant Rampage the favour of keeping the fight standing.
Despite this, I still can’t look past Jones. I feel this fight may be very similar to when Forrest Griffin fought Rampage. The rangier opponent keeping him at bay with the jab and picking him apart with leg kicks. Rampage’s reluctance to add variety to his striking will make it very difficult for him to close the distance. He did throw some half-hearted leg kicks against Hammill but nothing that will worry Jones. Rampage relies too heavily on his power punching and is noticeably one-dimensional for a modern day MMA fighter.
Variety and range will make this a long night for Jackson, if the fight comes to fruition that is.