5 YRS AGO: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson says his UFC 135 opponent Jon Jones may be the future, but he’s the present

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Jon Jones (photo credit Mark J. Rebilas © USA Today Sports)

Five years ago Rampage Jackson was talking up his chances against Jon Jones a week later at UFC 135. Here’s our story on his comments and some analysis…

As he attempts to regain the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship next weekend at UFC 135, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson brings a significant experience edge over the 24-year-old Champion Jon Jones.

With nearly three times the amount of fights and eight more years in the sport, the 33-year-old Jackson feels that the young Champ simply hasn’t fought anyone on his level to this point, and doesn’t put much credence into Jones’ Championship winning performance in March.

“I know he’s got some great skills and honestly I am impressed how fast he’s learned – he is the future of the division in my opinion, but I am the present. Rampage is the present of the UFC light heavyweight division,” Jackson wrote in a blog at Yahoo! Sports. “He’s a kid and he’s not beaten anyone like me at this level. The Shogun he fought had half a leg. He couldn’t move. Shogun was hurt before he even got off the plane. Look at the ‘Shogun’ who just beat Forrest Griffin, and you tell me if it was the same ‘Shogun’ who couldn’t move against Jones.”

“Rampage” says he’s in the best shape of his career, and he doesn’t think Jones is ready for this fight at this stage in his career. Despite the historically quick rise for Jones, and the exciting and unpredictable things Jones has done in the cage, “Rampage” feels that unpredictability has become predictable.

“I am ready,” Jackson assured. “But Jon Jones is in the big leagues now, and he’s not ready. He needed this fight in another couple of years’ time. Jon Jones does unpredictable things but, really, we’ve seen it now bro, so it is not unpredictable any more. We’ve seen the spinning elbow four or five times, Jon ‘Bones’ Jones. We’ve all seen it. Maybe Jon Jones is going to get me with some knees – I expect that, it is a fight – but I am gonna get him with my hands, too. You look at those Bambi legs and wonder what happens when I hit him.”

To this point in Jones’ career, he hasn’t faced much adversity in the cage. Now, that’s because he’s implemented his own will onto his opponents for the most part, but he’s never been in peril in a fight or had to fight through a tough spot. Because of that, Jackson doesn’t think he’s going to handle it well when he pressure him through a 25 minute fight.

“Five rounds is a long-ass time to fight. It is 25 minutes of getting your ass whupped, and that is no joke,” Jackson said. “Jon Jones has had everything in his career go right for him. The one time he got a little frustrated, with [Matt] Hamill, he used an illegal technique that any fan in the stands could have told him was illegal, but he said he didn’t know he couldn’t do that. Come on, man. He just don’t know what to do when things aren’t going his way. He couldn’t finish Hamill, so instead of trying something else he cheated and got disqualified. He’s a kid who’s had it his own way, and the little bit of time he’s not had it exactly how he wants it, he’s sulked and pouted.”

Penick’s Analysis: Rampage definitely gives some interesting ideas to think about with this fight. Because we haven’t seen Jones have to fight back from adversity, there’s a big opportunity for Jackson to get him in trouble for the first time. Despite some less-than-inspiring performances as of late, Jackson remains a very skilled fighter with a lot of potential to give anyone trouble. If he can hit Jones early and often, he’ll make Jones prove he can handle a fight not going precisely as planned. It’s also not insane to think a more experienced and in shape Jackson can still be the “present” of the light heavyweight division and take the belt back. It’s not going to be the angle that many take with this fight, and Jones will still be favored in the fight next week, but an in-shape, motivated, confident Rampage Jackson is a dangerous foe, and makes for a great title challenger.

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