The UFC 135 main event will be feature UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defending his title against former champion Rampage Jackson. This is a much anticipated bout with everyone wondering if Jones can continue his wave of dominance in the division. It is being billed as ‘old school vs. new school’, so let’s see how this one shakes out.
Rampage Jackson comes into this bout with a career record of (32-8) with 14 wins via TKO/KO and a few submission wins to his credit. Jackson was last seen in action winning a unanimous decision over Matt Hamill back at UFC 130 in May. Jackson is known for his knockout power and great chin but he is also a underrated wrestler in my opinion. Also, as I’ve mentioned before he has arguably the best defensive boxing skills in MMA. Jackson hates training and usually has motivational issues, but he has seemed to overcome those obstacles for this bout according to various reports.
Jon Jones comes into this bout with a career record of (13-1) with 8 wins via TKO/KO and 3 wins via submission. Of course he’s really undefeated as the loss was due to a disqualification against Matt Hamill. He was last seen in action dismantling Mauricio “Shogun” Rua to win the UFC light heavyweight title back at UFC 128. Jones is a huge light heavyweight with tremendous reach that likes to bring the fight to his opponents. He has a collegiate wrestling background and one of the best things about him is that he is truely unpredictable with his striking. If there’s a knock on him it is that he is inexperienced and he can get a little wild with his striking that puts him in bad positions as times.
Bet on Fighting has Jones as the betting favorite at (-550) and Jackson as the underdog at (+400).
I think they are correct in having Jackson as the underdog, but he shouldn’t be THAT big of an underdog. Jackson is a tougher fight for Jones than Rua because he has much better takedown defense. Check it.
There are two things that Rampage Jackson must overcome in this fight and that is the reach of Jones and the wrestling of Jones. I don’t think the reach of Jones will be that big of an issue because of the way Jones attacks his opponents. He likes to be the aggressor and that actually plays into what Jackson likes to do which is counterpunch his opponents as evident in the video below:
Notice how Jackson keeps his hands and most notably his elbows tucked tight as a blocking mechanism which puts him in the perfect position to throw the left hook which puts Wanderlei Silva out cold. That’s what I was referring to earlier when I mentioned defensive boxing. Jones has a tendancy to get wild with those spinning elbows and wild punches, so he’ll need to be careful of Jackson looking to counterpunch. He could afford to do those things against Shogun who is more of a kicker than puncher when it comes to power shots, but I’m not sure he can do that against Jackson.
Jackson will need to stay off his back against Jones. Jones has shown that he can end fights quickly once he takes his opponents down. He attacks from inside the guard, he has used the crucifix position, and attacks from side control. While Jones has a wrestling background the majority of his takedowns do not come from shots from outside, but moreso from the clinch/trips position. Check it below:
He uses a lateral drop to throw Stephan Bonnar like a little kid. What’s most impressive is that he did that while Bonnar had a bodylock or underhooks(I can’t tell from this angle).
Jones has a great understanding of momentum and leverage. Here he uses a whizzer and a nice little trip to take Bonnar down again. He used a similar technique to take both Matt Hamill down as well as Shogun Rua.
This is one of the few times that I’ve seen Jones shoot for a takedown, and even here he doesn’t really shoot. He allows Vladimir Matyushenko to throw a lazy left hook, times it perfectly and still uses a inside trip to get the takedown.
I showed you all of those examples to say that I’m not sure that he can do these things to Rampage Jackson, especially not the last .gif as Jackson rarely lunges like that with his punches. Also, it appears that Jones gets away with some of these takedowns by just being the stronger guy and I’m not sure he’ll be able to ragdoll Jackson like that.
I think this fight is going to come down to one thing and that is conditioning. Jones has never been past the third round, and while Jackson has he hasn’t done so since 2008. If Jackson is in shape I’m not sure that Jones will be able to keep him down. I even think Jackson will try to surprise Jones by trying to take him down as we have never seen Jones on his back before which would help Jackson set up his punches. If Jackson is gassed by the third round he could give up a takedown and get blasted with elbows like Jones has done everyone else.
Ultimately, I expect Jon Jones to win this fight but I certainly would not be surprised to see Rampage Jackson give him all he can handle and then some.
Here’s to hoping it’s a great fight.
HT: MMACore for the .gifs