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UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi - Toe to Toe Preview: Quinton Jackson vs. Fabio Maldonado

Phil and David break down everything you need to know and everything you don't about an unlikely LHW fight between two guys with no future at LHW.

Phil MacKenzie

Rampage Jackson fights Fabio Maldonado at light heavyweight in the co-main event of UFC 186 on April 25, 2015, at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Single sentence summary:

In a fight guaranteed to be bloody awesomeness, light heavyweight's funnest brawler takes on a literal hockey enforcer in... wait, what?


Man who hates all things acting takes on the guy who didn't surround himself with all the drama.


Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
Odds: -270

Fabio Maldonado
Odds: +240

History lesson / introduction to the fighters

Phil: Rampage has had a long and storied career which has finally wound its way back to the UFC. He's often been a guy who has been criticized for being lazy or unmotivated, but he's also displayed genuine long-term durability. The Mo and Beltran fights weren't impressive, exactly, but I also think I would have expected him to badly drop at least one of them at this stage in his career.

David: I agree that Rampage still has a little magic left, but he's also just kind of a lost soul at this point. I mean, I'm not really interested in hearing him call acting 'gay', and wondering what part of the California coast he'll go Carmageddon on next. I don't think his problem is laziness per se; I mean, that's part of it. I think the real issue is that he simply isn't a fighter who has evolved along with the game. It hasn't really passed him by. The physical capabilities all seem there. He just seems to be looking the other way, thumbing his nose.

Phil: Fabio Maldonado is, along with Nikita Krylov, is one of the upsides of a terribly weak LHW division (or not an upside at all, depending how snobby you are about your MMA technique), because he's incredibly entertaining, one of the few fighters guaranteed to put a smile on my face. He's not very athletic. He's got basically zero defense in any phase. Yet, he's close to a relevant competitor by dint of sheer durability and workrate.

David: Fabio is the dark, male underbelly of Paige VanZant's craft; some fighters have turned durability into an art. Fabio is not that fighter. He's turned durability into a battering ram of locusts, and rats. Yet he somehow experiences success kind of by accident; being 4-1 in his last 5 is good for a UFC record, but that just tells you that his matchups have been favorable.

What are the stakes?

Phil: Not much, but they determine the tone of the next chapter in the long-running Saga of Rampage. If he gets bopped by Maldonado, then the story takes a dark turn, as our hero must contend with being besieged by lawyers and fans while nursing his bruised liver. If Rampage is the one who bops, then if it's not exactly an affirmation of elite status, then at least he gets to continue the tale for a bit longer.

David: Yea these guys aren't going anywhere. Maldonado will get to be the feel good story of the year, while Quinton is the feel bad story of the year if he loses. I have a feeling he's gonna be a drama queen about it. Suddenly the UFC is not his home again despite it being his home until it wasn't years ago, just like Bellator, just like Pride, just like WFA, just like the cast and crew of the A-Team...

Where do they want it?

Phil: Punching. Rampage has long been essentially a boxer, his game consisting of closing patiently into range, baiting the opponent and then ducking under to deliver a booming counter hook. He's a powerful clinch fighter and wrestler, and he can even deliver some low kicks when he wants to, but most of his game has been slaved in service of that hook. His head movement and sheer physical strength makes him a strong pocket boxer and he remains adept at fighting off takedowns, but his plodding footspeed has also led to him being chewed up from range by outside fighters.

David: Is there anything to add here? Quinton has always been a solid boxer not in terms of versatility, or even technique, but in terms of timing and efficiency. He's a brute in the clinch, and does a good job of staying active in proximity. On paper, his game shouldn't endure, but as thoughtless as he seems to be when it comes to words, he's quite thoughtful in the cage where he's never been the crazy brawler he's sometimes stereotyped as.

Phil: Maldonado also likes to do work in close, but the head movement that Rampage uses is utterly alien to him. He closes in bolt upright, often taking horrific damage on the way, and then unloads flurries of punches to the opponent's head and body. Over his time in the UFC, his takedown defense has improved from terrible to... well, just pretty bad, but his attritional approach means that his opponents have to make the best of any takedowns they get- if they give him time to batter away at their guts, then they're going to need every spot of cardio they can spare.

David: The main thing is Fabio's body attack. He has the mechanics of a proper boxer, but the instincts of a convict asked to participate in shock fights. In its own way, this is kind of a good fight for Maldonado. Yea he'll probably get flattened and turned into the rooty tooty fresh 'n fruity with a massive left hook or something, but this is exactly the kind of fight that favors him if he can survive, and chamber an attack in response to his opponent's pressure. For all of the flack and criticism thrown his way, his probably has always been one of demeanor; not ability (this is really stretching it in terms of being kind to Fabio's chances, but a bit of this has to do with where Quinton is at this stage of the game).

Insight from past fights?

Phil: Teixeira vs Maldonado. I have no actual insights beyond the fact that Maldonado is appallingly hittable, but I just wanted to bring it up as being an underrated bout for both dudes looking like they belong in the food services industry. Slightly mournful failing restaurant owner versus his awkward fry-cook.

David: Oh man. I was thinking more along the lines of that guy who kills Scarface's sister at the end, and then gets thrown into the pool below only to eat all the bullets. I mean, so basically just watch all of Fabio's fights and you'll realize how terrible his chances are. Then again of Keith Jardine could take him to a decision...


Phil: Hypocrisy! Rampage constantly complains about people trying to take him down, but at his best he was a wrestler. I would not be surprised in the slightest to see him get into some trouble and double leg Maldonado.

David: I'm more interested in what happens if Fabio lands a really good body shot.


Phil: Even if Rampage is faded, I find it hard to see a way in which his counterpunching doesn't match up well against Maldonado's face-first style. If this goes deep and remains competitive, then Maldonado has a serious chance to knock the wind out of Quinton, but Rampage by TKO, round 1.

David: Fine I admit it. Quinton's attitude has worn thin on me, and I'm totally rooting for Maldonado because I actually like sentimentality. I don't care for this bout anyway, but I can at least look like a genius after the fact for saying Fabio's body attack will be the difference. Fabio Maldonado by Something Inspirational.