Newly crowned UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is set to make his first title defense this September against MMA veteran Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Just 24-years-old, Jones rapidly ascended to the top of the sport by virtue of a dynamic and exciting offense which has left everyone he’s met in the cage look confused and out of their depth. He won the light heavyweight strap with a masterful performance this past March against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Making things look effortless, Jones dispatched of the never-before-knocked-out Shogun with strikes in the third round. Now, he’s looking to add another Pride FC alum’s scalp to his mantle by beating Rampage, which he recently told Inside MMA is a victory which he hopes will prove to anyone doubting him that he’s the real deal.
“It’s gonna be great. It’s a great opportunity for me,” Jones said of fighting Jackson. “Rampage has beaten some of the best of the sport. He’s knocked out some of the best in the sport. He has like forty wins, he’s a Pride champ, he’s a UFC champ. So, his credentials are great and I’m just excited for the opportunity. I’ve been doing really well throughout my career and everybody always says, ‘He hasn’t fought anyone yet.’ So, this is gonna be great for me, to get past Shogun and then work to get past Rampage. I’ll be starting to close up some of the question marks that are out there. I’m excited to prove to myself that I can be listed with some of the best fighters in the world.”
As for what he expects from Rampage, Jones believes that he’ll see the more one-dimensional Rampage, who’s mostly removed his powerhouse wrestling as well as many kicks from his offense in recent years in favor of a boxing heavy attack. Having just prepared to face Rua, who throws dangerous strikes with every limb and from every angle, Jones thinks he has this one covered.
“It’s obvious that his hands — he has a really nice left hook, he has a nice right uppercut, he has a nice right hook. Just his hands,” said Jones when asked what he’ll be looking out for from ‘Page. “He’s knocked out many people with his hands and I’m prepared for that. Before that, I prepared for a guy like Shogun, who has knockout power in both hands. Who has vicious knees. Who has vicious high kicks, vicious low kicks. I had a lot more to worry about and now, with this fight, I only have to worry about two things and I feel as if I’ll be way more than prepared for those two things.”
Jones and Jackson will meet at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado this September 24 in the main event of UFC 135.