Ok, so it was Quinton Jackson. Q101.com is not going to annoint the kid, Jon Jones, all-world just for beating a has-been like Jackson. However, it was a dominating performance over a sometimes-dangerous opponent. The mission was to keep the trajectory Jones has been set upon to fight Rashad Evans, and then perhaps a dream match up with Anderson Silva.
We’re thrilled to report: Mission accomplished. We yearn for Jones-Silva. We need it. We can’t wait for it next spring. Here’s a writeup of the night’s main event from Kevin Richardson of http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com:
UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones defended his title Saturday for the first time against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135 in Denver. Jones outfought Jackson for three rounds before he submitted him at 1:14 of the fourth round.
Jackson didn’t make any excuses for the loss. “I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said. “I thought he was all hype, but the kid is good. My hat is off to him. I did my best. This is the best Rampage ever, and he had me memorized.”
You could see from the start of the fight that Jackson’s game plan was flawed. Between rounds his corner would yell out instructions for him to get within punching range.
How can you get within punching range when your opponent has an 11-inch reach advantage?
From the start of the fight Jones used his legs, hands and elbows to dominate Jackson.
Jones came out in the first round in a low wrestling crouch, hoping to take Jackson down. “I had a little epiphany last night,” Jones said. “I have a really good misdirection single-leg takedown, where you fake to the right leg and shoot to the left leg, but it didn’t workout the way I planned.
Jones was able to get Jackson against the cage in the first round and throw elbows and knees. Jackson complained to referee Josh Rosenthal that he was hit in the groin, but the ref took no action. Jones ended the round with a wheel kick that didn’t connect, but it showed Jackson his arsenal of kicks.
In the second, Jones continued to land outside leg kicks and straight jabs on Jackson. In the round, Jones landed a sidekick to the midsection of Rampage. Just before the end of the round, Jones tried to land a triangle choke, but Jackson is saved by the end of the round.
Jackson team’s didn’t adjust its game plan when it was obvious that he couldn’t win trying to get within punching range to connect a big punch. This was the difference in the fight.
In the third, Jones once again dominated the round with kicks and takedowns. Jackson was able to land some leg kicks, but Jones had an answered by taking him down and mounting him. Jones landed an elbow on Jackson, creating a large cut of his right eye. Jones missed a flying knee attempt but landed a fast left.
“I was very confident and a couple of times I was getting desperate cause I wasn’t sticking to my game plan like I was trained to do,” Jackson said. “It was frustrating me. Jon’s presence and his reach is really hard to deal with.”
In the fourth round, Jones drove Jackson down against the base of the cage. Jackson tried to turn so that Jones wouldn’t reopen the cut over his eye, but Jones took his back. He sunk in his hooks to flatten Jackson out and executed a rear-naked choke. Jackson tapped at 1:14 of the fourth round. It’s was the first time Jackson had been submitted since Kazushi Sakuraba submitted him in 2001.