‘Rampage’ Vows to Succeed Where ‘Rusty’ Rua Failed
On July 5, 2008, Quinton Jackson lost his UFC light heavyweight championship to Forrest Griffin. Four title changes and three years later, “Rampage” will have a shot to once again wear the prized gold belt around his waist.
To accomplish that, however, he must conquer an opponent many view as an Anderson Silva-caliber puzzle -- a freak combination of speed, power, technique and athleticism named Jon Jones. A heavy underdog heading into their UFC 135 main event on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Jackson has embraced the odds, vowing to overcome the champion in spite of Jones’ many talents.
Jackson has admitted in the past to falling out of shape between bouts, a bad habit with which he has struggled. For this bout, the Memphis, Tenn., native claims he kept himself in top shape leading up to what many see as his toughest challenge to-date. Jackson is not ready to make that concession.
“I stayed disciplined for this fight, because this is a very important fight,” Jackson told Sherdog.com, “but I don’t know [if Jones will be my toughest fight]. I think that [Lyoto] Machida was pretty tough. I can’t really say that this fight will be the biggest or the toughest. I can’t really say yet. That’s a question to ask me after the fight.”
Jones won the title in March, dominating Mauricio Rua at UFC 128 as an injury replacement for then-teammate Rashad Evans. Though Jones was impressive in dispatching the former Pride Fighting Championships standout, Jackson believes it may have had more to do with “Shogun” coming off knee surgery and a 10-month layoff.
“I think I’m going to succeed where Shogun failed because Shogun took a year off, and he was coming off of an injury. That’s the only reason why Shogun failed in that fight, I believe,” Jackson said, pointing to Rua’s most recent performance as evidence of his claim. “That wasn’t the same Shogun who fought Forrest the other day [at UFC 134]. You could tell he was very rusty [against Jones]. That’s not the Shogun I know.”
A major issue leading up to the Jackson’s showdown with Jones has centered on the veteran’s accusations of Jones planting a spy within his camp. Though Jackson told Sherdog.com that he had yet to find out the exact identity of the alleged spy, the light heavyweight announced on Friday morning’s edition of ESPN SportsCenter that he had located the culprit.
Though Jackson declined to mention the accused party’s full name, he did specify that a “Leonard” was responsible for the reported leaked information from his camp at the MusclePharm training facility in Denver. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission paperwork surfaced documenting the resignation of a Leonard K. Armenta, former executive vice president of MusclePharm. However, it is currently unknown if Armenta is the alleged party in question or if the situation is simply coincidence.
Regardless, Jackson believes his intense preparation will have him in top form, even if his opponent is privy to inside information. According to Rampage, his diligence and discipline will pay dividends come fight night.
“Listen, Jon Jones has a spy in my camp. He knows everything I’ve been working on,” Jackson said. “I don’t care. I’ve got guys just as tall as Jon Jones. I’ve got guys [who are] just as good as him at striking, and I’ve got just as good or even better wrestlers training with me, so I’m prepared to face Jon Jones.”