Jon Jones entered his UFC 128 light-heavyweight title fight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua with more hype than you can shake a stick at. In fact, I said that the Jon Jones hype had entered the stratosphere. After Jones more or less destroyed Rua, the hype rocketed through the stratosphere and now I think it’s somewhere between Mars and Jupiter. It’s easy to see why: in fact, let’s look at Fight Metric’s stats on Jones’s UFC career.
- UFC 87: Jones 42, Andre Gusmao 34
- UFC 91: Jones 45, Stephan Bonnar 37
- UFC 100: Jones 25, Jake O’Brien 11
- TUF 10 Finale: Jones 44, Matt Hamill 5
- UFC on Versus 1: Jones 11, Brandon Vera 5
- UFC on Versus 2: Jones 15, Vladimir Matyushenko 0
- UFC 126: Jones 20, Ryan Bader 5
- UFC 128: Jones 75, Mauricio Rua 9
So, starting with the fight against Matt Hamill, Jones has been virtually untouchable. This doesn’t even look at takedowns, where the cumulative score is Jones 18, opponents 0. You can’t hit him, you can’t take him down… so what in the world do you do with Jon Jones?
For fans of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the answer would presumably be “land a KO punch.” It would undoubtedly make for good trash talk: “I don’t need to hit you a bunch of times, I only need to hit you once.” Then again, Jackson knows a thing or two about talking trash. The question is: is Jackson really all that good and landing that big knockout?
Sure, Jackson has three good KO wins in the UFC: against Marvin Eastman, Chuck Liddell, and Wanderlei Silva. But all of Jackson’s other six UFC fights have gone to decision. This includes Forrest Griffin, who’s been knocked out a few times, and Keith Jardine, who’s also been knocked out a few times. For a fighter who is supposed to have awesome KO power, Jackson’s UFC record isn’t particularly remarkable.
In Jackson’s favor, the last time he was finished in a fight was in 2005, when he was stopped brutally by Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. He’s hard to knock out, he’s hard to take down, and he’s hard to submit. Whether it’s because of underrated technique, or just raw power, Jackson has shown himself to be a fighter who forces his opponents to play his game.
It’s just hard to look at Jackson’s fight history as any kind of indicator for how successful Jon Jones will be. Jones has a different kind of talent than fighters like Keith Jardine or Forrest Griffin. Where others may have failed to take Jackson down, Jones might do it with ease. Others might not have been able to submit Jackson, but Jones very well could find a choke. And Jackson does have a little bit of a history of being hurt with strikes, and while Jones may not have the very best in standup striking power, he’s showcased devastating ground and pound.
SILVA doesn’t offer Jackson any solace here. Jackson’s SILVA score is a solid 37.40, a very good score for a fighter who hasn’t qualified to be considered an “elite” light-heavyweight fighter. This reflects the fact that Jackson has been fighting very tough opposition, and has had a lot of success. But once again, Jackson pales in comparison to Jones. Jones may have an official SILVA score of 44.42, but turn the Matt Hamill DQ loss into a win, and that SILVA score becomes 50.64, which I feel is a much better indicator of his abilities.
I think Jackson’s best chance is to make this like a street fight. That is, he should do stuff the old “Rampage” would do. Pick Jones up and slam him. Get Jones on his back, where he’s untested, and unleash some knees and elbows to the body. Make it a tough fight, and see if Jones can handle being put into adversity. I’m not suggesting that any of this would be easy… far from it. I’m not sure that Jackson would even be capable of slamming Jones; Jones’s balance and Greco-Roman wrestling skills might completely thwart such an attempt. But I think it’s a better idea than winging punches and hoping for a KO.
SILVA PREDICTION: JON JONES (44.42) OVER QUINTON JACKSON (37.40)
Jackson isn’t a fighter who should ever be counted out. As a very strong fighter who does have KO power, that punch could happen at any point. But I think it’s going to take a truly outstanding talent to beat Jones… in fact, I think the man for the job might just be the next challenger, Rashad Evans.
One thing I know for sure: either way, this fight will break the curse of Rampage Jackson.