UFC 130: Does Quinton "Rampage" Jackson Deserve a Title Shot?
UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill was a fairly lackluster card in terms of the importance of the fights.
An event that was originally slated to contain a rematch of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard in addition to an explosive matchup between Rampage Jackson and Thiago Silva instead became riddled with injuries and was relegated to UFC 127-like status.
Still, the card was filled with fights that, while not necessarily making clear No. 1 contenders, allowed for title run talks to begin. Amongst these fighters were Rick Story, Frank Mir, and Rampage Jackson.
Rampage's Initial Title Run
In his first appearance in the UFC, Rampage made a quick impact, knocking out Marvin Eastman to earn a shot at Chuck Liddell for the Light Heavyweight Championship.
Although not many were aware of Jackson, he came from an impressive PRIDE run that saw him beat the likes of Kevin Randleman, Ricardo Arona, and of course, Chuck Liddell.
Rampage made quick work of Liddell, knocking him out in the first round and ending the era of "The Iceman."
Defending the Title
Following his win over the seemingly invincible Chuck Liddell, Rampage proceeded to defend his title and unify the PRIDE Middleweight and UFC Light Heavyweight titles by defeated Dan Henderson.
It appeared that the UFC had entered the era of Rampage, although it was merely the first signs of constant change at Light Heavyweight.
After a stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Rampage surrendered his title to a very game Forrest Griffin, and has been searching for a return to title contention ever since.
Return to Title Contention
Since losing to Griffin, Rampage has gone 4-1 in the UFC, with his one loss coming to Rashad Evans, another perennial contender, following a second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Maybe Rampage should just stop doing that show.
Despite the 4-1 run, Rampage hasn't looked quite as dominant. His only spectacular performance was a knockout against a Wanderlei Silva who was way past his prime and has since moved to 185.
His last four fights have all gone to decision and his fight with Lyoto Machida, in particular, was too close for comfort. Even Jackson himself was surprised to get the decision.
Rampage's Latest Performance
Rampage's latest performance was simply adequate. He battered a seriously over-matched Matt Hamill for three rounds, but never looked like he had the same killer instinct of his younger self.
Perhaps it was the fractured hand he mentioned having after the fight, but Rampage didn't really put on a performance worthy of a title shot. It's not necessarily his fault though—beating Matt Hamill doesn't really mean much at this point in his career.
Personally, I think a rematch with Shogun Rua would be extremely interesting, as I feel he needs a victory over a real contender to prove his status amongst the top of the division. Another option is putting on the fight that was originally scheduled against Thiago Sliva.
His two performances against contenders—Rashad and Machida—both were underwhelming and another solid performance is probably necessary to legitimately promote a title fight.
However, the UFC has a problem in that Rampage seems to lack motivation. They have the chance to lose an extremely popular and charismatic fighter in Rampage and may want to take advantage of him while he is still fighting.
Perhaps a fight with Jon Jones is the type of fight that Jackson needs to stay focused.
How Does Rampage Stack Up with Jon Jones?
Jon Jones is an extremely young and impressive fighter. People shouldn't get ahead of themselves just yet—Lyoto Machida was just recently in the similar position of being deemed unbeatable.
Still, Jones, up until now, has looked stellar. He has ended his fights decisively and continued to improve following every appearance in the octagon.
Rampage is an extremely experienced fighter, but it would appear that he doesn't stack up well stylistically against "Bones."
Despite Jones's long reach and dynamic striking, his wrestling has been what allows him to dictate the pace of his fights and Rampage has shown issues in this department.
Although Rampage's takedown defense was brilliant against Hamill, Jones is simply in another league. If Rampage had issues with Rashad's takedown, Jones will likely be able to put him on his back at will.
Forrest Griffin exposed another hole in Rampage's game—his inability to defend leg kicks. With Jones's long limbs, he could also easily take advantage of this. In addition, Rampage tends to plod forward in his fights, waiting to get inside to unleash his vicious hooks.
Unfortunately for him, Jones is extremely illusive and quick, which will probably prevent Rampage from getting comfortable enough to unload.
Still, Jones has never really taken a punch and there aren't many human beings who punch harder than Rampage.