Jon Jones proved that his hype is deserved tonight by successfully defending his belt for the first time against former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, taking out the Pride FC veteran via submission for the first time since 2001.
As all of his fights have proven to go, this bout was all Jon Jones from start to finish. Bones came out crouching like Spider-Man, looking to pick Jackson’s ankle and he kept things about that unpredictable all night. It was clear that Jackson had put in the work he said that he did, as he was able to hang with the champ for four rounds, but he was never able to put Jones close to danger.
Bones kept Jackson on the outside by frequently utilizing his kicks, effectively neutralizing Jackson’s power. He dominated in the clinch exchanges, surpassing Jackson’s stout takedown defense more than once. In the end, once he Jackson weary, Jones dragged him down on the fence and tapped him out with a rear naked choke – it was a near-flawless performance by the champion.
The two men squashed what beef they’d worked up immediately after the fight, but Jones admitted that Jackson’s pre-fight comments spurred him to put on the masterful showing that he did.
“He insulted my striking and said I had no punching power,” Jones said. “I got together with Mike Winkeljohn to work on my striking to try to prove a point.”
Jackson gave Jones all due respect, admitting that he underestimated the champ and predicting that he’ll be lording over the light heavyweight division for a long time to come.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Jackson said. “I expected to close the distance and overthrow Jon Jones, but he’s great, guys. I thought it was hype, but the kid is good. I have to take my hat off to him.”
Jones improves to 14-1 in victory, and will now rest before gearing up for his next title defense: a heated grudge match against Rashad Evans. Rampage falls to 32-9 and has stated his desire to next fight at the UFC’s return to Japan next year. UFC 135 went down at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.