UFC 92 features three main events and all three have the potential to be the fight of 2008, none more perhaps than Quinton Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva. There is no title at stake only the pride of these two storied warriors.
This fight is their third meeting and Silva has knocked Jackson out in dramatic fashion in both fights. Silva was a PRIDE superstar mostly famous for his heavy hands, his devastating knees and his intimidating stare down.
Jackson was also a PRIDE star, he doesn't shy away from big fights and his career victories is a who's who list of fighters in MMA. Jackson is best known for his highlight reel KOs of Chuck Liddell and his devastating body slams.
Since their last meeting the careers of these two fighters have gone very different directions. Jackson has posted a 7-2 record since his last loss to Silva, he left PRIDE soon after to the UFC were he defeated Chuck Liddell for the LHW Belt and then defeated Dan Henderson the PRIDE champion. Jackson then lost to the current UFC LHW champ, Forrest Griffin.
Silva was at his peak when he defeated Jackson for the second time capping his 18 fight streak without a loss, but he then lost a close fight with the massive Matt Hunt ending his streak. To this point Silva still seemed to be a prime fighter but Silva's fight with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic changed everything. Silva was dropped with a devastating head kick and since then Silva has been a very underwhelming 3-1.
Head to head Jackson's biggest problem with Silva has been wasting energy, Silva is content to allow Jackson to waste his strength early in the fight and to look for the knock out blow.
Looking at these fights Jackson clearly has the advantage on the ground. His ground and pound overwhelmed Silva in both fights and his takedowns are just too much for the Brazlian. Also Silva's blackbelt in Brazlian Ju-Jitsu is almost a complete non-factor, in 42 profesional fights Silva has one win by submission so his guard is clearly a method to get back to his feet rather then end the fight.
On the feet Silva's Muy Thai background gives him a clear edge but Jackson's stint with boxing trainer Juanito Ibarra has likely closed that gap and his current membership at Wolfslair Academy assures that Rampage's cardio will be excellent.
Silva meanwhile has been training at Xtreme Couture and as a result look for Silva's takedown defense to be much improved in an effort to turn the fight into a Muy Thai match. Also it would not be shocking if Silva is more aggressive with his Ju-Jistu considering Jackson's domination on the ground.
Anyone who contests that Silva is in Jackson's head should watch the end of the 1st round of their second fight in which Silva is saved why the bell while Jackson is raining punches and knees down on Silva's head.
This fight comes down to the takedown, if Jackson can get this fight to the ground and use his ground and pound skills he will win this fight. If Silva can stuff his take downs and use his Muy Thai and the clinch he can certainly knock Jackson out again.
My personal feeling on this fight is that Silva hasn't improved as a fighter while Jackson's star is still rising. I feel that Jackson has more ways to win this fight: he could take the fight to the ground and pound Silva out and if the fight stays standing, even though it favors Silva, Jackson's stand up is improved enough to hold Silva off and land a big punch. I also feel a win here will launch Rampage to a new level for a 2-3 year run that MMA fight fans will be talking about for a long time.