UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is a heavy favorite over challenger Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, and for good reason. However, a victory for Jackson isn't out of the question as he can still win if he follows a certain plan of action.
Jackson has to deal with the extremely long reach (84.5 inches) and the unorthodox strikes—as well as traditional strikes from unorthodox angles—that are a product of Jones' reach.
In addition to this, Jackson has to somehow handle Jones' wrestling abilities as well as brutal elbow-oriented ground and pound.
What is "Rampage" to do against such seemingly insurmountable odds?
There are several tactics which Jackson needs to exploit to earn a victory.
First, and most obviously, Jackson absolutely needs to get inside Jones' reach. If he stays on the outside he'll be picked apart by a hurricane of jabs, elbows, and kicks. In the striking game, Jackson most close the distance and tee off not only on Jones' head, but also his body.
Second, he has to make Jones work. It seems counter intuitive to say that Rampage needs to push the pace, but he's been focusing on his cardiovascular conditioning extensively for this fight and he may well be able to outlast Jones, who himself has never gone the full 25 minutes.
If Jackson can get on the inside and batter Jones' body, it will sap the champions energy and give Jackson a tremendous advantage as the fight goes on.
However, when Jackson moves inside Jones' reach, he must be wary of the takedown or the clinch attempt.
Jones will very likely duck or slip Jackson's punches and take the challenger to the mat. If this is the case, Jackson absolutely can't stay there. He needs to move constantly to keep Jones working and prevent him from landing his devastating trademark elbows.
In fact, it may be beneficial for Jackson to at least attempt some takedowns of his own. Why? If Jones is anticipating the takedown attempt then he'll be less open with his striking.
Jackson can win the fight, but he has to work harder than he has in any other fight before. He needs to employ every trick in the book, and he absolutely cannot headhunt for the whole fight. If he chooses to just throw wild hooks at Jones' head, he'll be taken down and beaten up.
If he can fight smart and wear Jones down, he'll find himself as the new UFC light heavyweight champion of the world and he'll finally have his belt back.