It seems that, while training for his fight with light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has taken a few pages out of the “How to Promote a Fight the Chael Sonnen Way” instruction guide.
Jackson has talked some trash and mocked the champ in front of his face, with all the media around to see. Jackson wants to make this fight a scene and try to make the young champ as anxious and uncomfortable as he can.
Rampage has said things such as, “I got this,” and that Jones “couldn’t bust a grape.”
He has also made videos talking about this bout, why he is so confident, and how he is training like never before.
Actions like these show that the gamesmanship has already begun and Rampage has been closely studying those pages he stole from Sonnen.
For a championship bout that is looming on the horizon, this is a matchup that is not generating the interest it deserves.
It seems that most fans have already given into the assumed reality that Jones is going to steamroll through Rampage and go on to defend the title for the next five years without being challenged.
Considering this is the ultimate sport of the unexpected, this mentality is baffling to me. It also made me ask myself a question about this fight next month.
Can I picture Rampage winning this fight? I answered hell yes.
Then the tough question arose: WHY could Rampage win this fight?
I wrote down those reasons I came up with and what follows is why I believe Rampage can walk out of the octagon at UFC 135 with the belt around his waist. And no, I am not crazy.
First off, lets get one thing straight before we start: In no way am I saying that Jon Jones is not the favorite here; just look at how Vegas has him favored at around -500 if you need some verification. All I am trying to lay out is how this is anything but a forgone conclusion.
Rampage may have an advantage in a few aspects of this bout. Most notably he will have an advantage over Jones between the ears.
Rampage has fought everyone this sport has had to offer. No matter how big of an underdog he is, this can play a major factor.
Jones, on the other hand, has not so much as even been hit flush while fighting in the UFC and is extremely inexperienced in big fights.
Let's keep this idea simple: Eventually someone is going to catch Jones and put him in a bad spot.
Who better than Rampage to be the one to do it?
When this happens, we will see what Jones is made of.
To build on the point I just made, I see experience playing a large role in this showdown. Rampage is not going to be afraid of anyone, and no matter what he always believes he can win.
This is something no opponent of Jones has ever felt in their hearts. Lets face it: The likes of Brandon Vera and Stephan Bonnar were just hoping they didn’t get hurt too bad.
Has Rampage fought someone better before? Who knows? Maybe.
What I do know is that Rampage really is not afraid. Whether he is right or too dumb to know any better is a different discussion.
Just don’t doubt his confidence.
Let's get down to the styles these two bring to the cage.
Everyone knows exactly what Rampage is going to do. He is going to stand up and try to punch you in the face before you punch him in the face—not exactly rocket science.
But to go along with that, he is tough to get out of his game plan. Look at his history: His fights usually go where he wants them.
His stand-up-and-bang style is the opposite of that of Jones, who eventually wants to take the fight to the ground. Everyone goes crazy over Jones's eclectic striking, but what he really wants to do is bring the fight to the ground and use his superior physical tools to break you down.
I believe that if Rampage is able to keep this fight where he wants it, as he has done in the past, then it only makes it much more likely he keeps Jones off balance and can pull the upset.
Looking at his record, there is seemingly one glaring weakness on Rampage’s resume as of late: He has shown less knockout ability than Ronnie from Jersey Shore, having not ended a fight since 2008.
This may seem to show that Rampage does not have “it” anymore and is on the downside of his career, but to the contrary, I feel it simply demonstrates that he has evolved into being something more than just a knockout artist.
He does not have the best highlight reel anymore, and that may be a good thing for him.
Jackson has beaten fighters who are perceived to be much more well rounded and skilled in the cage, like Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida (both of whom many considered matchup nightmares for Rampage) by decisions since coming to the UFC. Not many fighters can say they have beaten one of them, much less both.
Adding that he outpointed both makes it even more impressive.
From a distance this fight draws a lot of parallels to Rampage’s second fight in the UFC, when he fought Chuck Liddell. Everyone expected Rampage to lose and wanted him to go away quietly.
Instead he did the opposite.
He came in prepared and confident, and he left the cage howling, with the belt around his waste.
Don’t be shocked if the same thing happens on September 24th.