10 Reasons to Watch UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage
On September 24, Jon "Bones" Jones will defend his belt for the first time against the heavy handed Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
With the hype surrounding Jones and the fame surrounding Jackson, this is one of the biggest events the UFC this year.
The event extends far beyond a title defense. Here are ten reasons why you should not miss watching UFC 135.
Nate Diaz vs. Takanori Gomi
In 2007, Nate Diaz’s brother Nick fought with Takanori Gomi at Pride 33, and what resulted was one of the most exciting fights of the year.
Nick Diaz ended the fight in spectacular fashion, submitting Gomi via gogoplata. The result would be overturned, however, as Diaz tested positive for marijuana post-fight.
Four years later, with both Nate Diaz and Gomi coming off losses, the UFC decides to pit the two together to see if a little of that magic that happened in Pride could be recreated.
Both fighters can’t afford the loss in danger of being cut, but a spectacular performance, win or lose, would ensure continued employment with the organization.
Do the Diaz brothers have Takanogi Gomi’s number?
At UFC 135, we'll find out.
Mark Hunt vs. Ben Rothwell
Once touted as one of Pride’s rising stars, Mark Hunt went a whopping four and a half years (2007-2011) without a win in the MMA world.
He garnered a win in his last fight against Chris Tuchscherer, however, and it was quite a sight: one punch from Hunt sent his opponent crumbling to the floor, and all we could do was watch Hunt walk away from the wreckage like a complete boss.
Ben Rothwell is 1-1 in the UFC, but he’s 31-7 overall, an amazing record for any mixed martial artist.
The reason to watch this fight? It could be a complete beat down on Rothwell’s part. Hunt’s biggest wins are over Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva, but both those were over six years ago. He’s clearly overmatched going against Rothwell, and this is definitely the intention of the matchmakers.
Or Hunt could do another consecutive Knockout of the Night and upset Rothwell. Who doesn’t love a Super Samoan comeback?
Is Gomi Still a Competitor?
In Japan during most of the 2000s, Takanori Gomi was the biggest fish in the lightweight pond. He went 13-1-1 in Pride Fighting Championships and was the organizations first and last lightweight champion.
The times have changed, however. By the time the UFC picked him in 2010, he had split his last four fights and was clearly on the dwindling end of his prime years.
Gomi is an exciting fighter with excellent KO power, but squeezing 40 professional fights in thirteen years doesn’t leave much room for recovery on the body, and he may be paying the price.
The Nate Diaz fight will tell if Takanori Gomi still has what it takes to compete at the highest levels of MMA.
Can Tony Ferguson Rekindle TUF?
The last season of The Ultimate Fighter may have been a snooze fest, but Tony Ferguson’s crisp boxing and good defensive wrestling was enticing to watch. As a result, he became the winner of TUF season 13.
But does that really mean anything nowadays?
Lately, TUF winners have been a little less than stellar. Roy Nelson and Ryan Bader are on losing streaks; Jonathan Brookins has not been active enough; Amir Sadollah is not living up to expectations.
Ferguson has the tools to make a name for himself in the UFC. Let’s hope he uses them to prove TUF alums are still worth their contracts.
Undefeated Nick Ring
As of this moment, Nick “The Promise” Ring is 2-0 in the UFC, 12-0 overall.
In his time during The Ultimate Fighter, Ring was tearing through the house. An unfortunate injury sidelined him, however, and had to withdraw from competition in order to surgically repair his ACL.
He returned in 2011 and defeated James Head and Riki Fukuda (the latter controversially).
Controversy aside, he’s essentially undefeated in his entire career, but will be facing his stiffest challenge yet in Tim Boetsch.
Matt Hughes' Last Fight?
At age 37, Matt Hughes is the unofficial old man at UFC 135.
Hughes was once the most dominant champion in UFC welterweight history, running through his opponents in devastating fashion and leaving the audience in awe.
That time has passed, however. He has split his last eight fights, and no single loss made it to a decision. Right as he was riding a three-fight win streak, B. J. Penn handed Hughes his last loss, a 21-second knockout immortalized in Penn highlight reels.
Hughes has already mentioned retirement in the past, and a loss would do nothing to stave off that inclination. He has a tough opponent in Diego Sanchez waiting for him in September.
This could possibly be Matt Hughes's last fight.
Diego "The Dream" Sanchez
If I didn’t believe Jones vs. Rampage could be fight of the year, Sanchez vs. Hughes would definitely be this card’s show stealer.
Diego Sanchez has won Fight of the Night in his last four of six fights. He didn’t just win the bonuses either; he won the fights as well. That’s no accident, because when Diego wins, he wins spectacularly.
Since 2009, Sanchez has been nothing but nonstop action. Even his losses are something to watch. Who would have though Sanchez could have made it out alive of the first round against B. J. Penn?
Sanchez is a heck of a fighter, and you’re missing out if you don’t see him live.
Does Rampage Jackson Still Have It?
Quinton Jackson is a knockout artist that hasn’t knocked anyone out lately.
His last KO was a revenge bout against Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92. Since then, he’s had some very tough matchups against Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida, but finishes of fighters like Keith Jardine and Matt Hamill were expected.
People seem to believe that Jackson has lost some of his power in the past few years, which may be due to his Hollywood commitments.
Rampage says he’s motivated going into this fight, and his press conference antics sound believable. Here’s hoping he sticks to his word.
Jone Jones Hype Train
The Jones hype train is in full swing, and it’s hard to fault the bandwagon: Bones has dismantled every single opponent in spectacular fashion.
When it comes to truly elite opponents, however, he’s only faced Shogun Rua. He emerged victorious, but only after it was clear to many watchers that Rua was not in top condition, having come back from yet another knee surgery.
If Rampage stays healthy, a Jones victory would mean a second consecutive victory over an elite opponent and solidify his status as the best thing since the croissan’wich, and we all know how good those croissan'wiches are.
Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson
It could be the fight of the year.
The UFC has done well in marketing this fight. At age 33, Rampage is hardly an old man, but he’s been fighting for so long he rightfully deserves the title "legend."
Regardless, he is more than just a veteran of the sport; he is a member of the current guard that could be overtaken by the new.
At 24 years of age, Jones is the youngest light heavyweight champion in UFC history, and a victory over Rampage would guarantee a passing of the torch.
Stylistically, the two match up well, although the current hype train would have you believe Jon Jones has more than just an edge over Jackson.
Whether Jackson wins the belt or Jones defends the title, audiences everywhere will feel like winners after watching UFC 135.