At UFC 144 the man known simply as Rampage, Quinton Jackson (32-9; 7-3 UFC) meets Ryan Bader (13-2; 6-2 UFC). This Light Heavyweight bout is the semi-main event on the evening. Rampage is currently ranked as the #5 Light Heavyweight in the world according to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings; Bader is #16. The UFC 144 PPV card begins this Saturday, February 25 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, and will run for 4 hours on PPV.
On paper this looks like a pretty one-sided affair. Rampage may have slowed a bit in recent years, but he's still one of the most dangerous men in the division, while Bader is just 1 fight removed from a loss to Tito Ortiz. Much of the interest in this fight stems from Rampage returning to Japan where he first made his name as part of Pride. Jackson seems excited about fighting in front of Japanese fans once again. Will this mean the return of "Slampage" and his devastating powerbombs and throws? Any old school Pride fan must certainly be hoping so.
How do these two stack up?
Rampage: 33 years old | 6'1" | 73" reach
Bader: 28 years old | 6'2" | 74" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is a former UFC Light Heavyweight champion who has seen a lot of ups and downs in his career recently. After making a big UFC debut back in 2007, he won 3 straight, then lost the belt to Forrest Griffin and subsequently went on a bizarre and dangerous driving, uh, rampage. He came back, had a pair of fights, then announced his retirement from MMA to pursue acting. That didn't pan out, and he's 2-2 since his return. As I said above, he remains a threat to everyone in the division, but there often just feels like a spark missing from Rampage these days. I'm interested to see if the Japanese fan reignite it.
Ryan Bader started his UFC career with a 5 fight win streak that brought his overall record to 12-0. From winning The Ultimate Fighter to defeating Rogerio Nogueira, Bader was clearly a force. A loss to Jon Jones was a minor setback, though clearly there's no shame in losing to Jones. But his UFC 132 submission loss to Tito Ortiz was a real eye-opener. He's defeated Jason Brilz since, but it is going to take a lot for fans to forget the image of Bader being choked out. A win over Rampage would be a huge step in that process.
Why should you care?
There are three ways I see this fight going: 1) Rampage taps into his old violence and steamrolls Bader, 2) Bader pulls off a huge upset and knocks one of the old guard off his perch, 3) Rampage has a tentative victory a la Matt Hamill. Two of those three options would be exciting, so odds are in your favor for a good fight.
More UFC 144 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.