Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage
The UFC makes its long awaited return to Denver, Colorado for UFC 135 at the Pepsi Center on September 24th. The headliner will be for the Light Heavyweight Championship as title holder Jon ‘Bones’ Jones defends his title for the first in his career against former Light Heavyweight Champion, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. The five main card bouts will be broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View while two preliminary bouts will be aired on Spike TV and Rogers Sportsnet. The remaining three fights will be live on Facebook.
Now for the main card breakdown:
Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones (13-1) vs. Quinton Jackson (32-8)
In arguably the most anticipated fight of 2011, Jon Jones is getting what looks like the toughest test of his young career when he faces Rampage Jackson. There has been a war of words between the two and Jones has not looked very comfortable being a part of it. It is evident who the more talented fighter is. Just by watching Jon Jones, you know he is the future of MMA. No fighter has his combination of length, speed, strength and talent, and it has made him look virtually unstoppable. His unbelievable performance
against Shogun Rua had the UFC brass drooling over his abilities. He is going up against a fighter that many have criticized for not being motivated and not aggressive enough in many of his fights. The very famous quote “I want my belt back” has been played over and over again. Finally, Rampage looks like he truly wants his belt back after taking out Machida and Hamill consecutively to earn another opportunity at the championship he lost back in 2008. He is a fantastic counter puncher with great takedown defence.
He is going to need to be patient and find the perfect opportunity to get inside of Jones’ UFC record setting 84.5 inch reach. It will not be easy, but if any fighter is capable of finding a way, it might just be Rampage, who seems like he has learned to build winning game plans instead of relying on a single punch to change his fights. After his poor performance against Rashad Evans, where he reportedly came into camp at around 250 pounds, he has figured out how to maintain a healthy diet and is prepared to go on a tear. It will not be an easy task against Jones, who must prove his worth against a veteran and legend of the sport. He knows he has a target on his back and he must not allow himself to get caught up in the hype and try to get Rampage on his back any opportunity he has. It is tough to go against Jones, but the underdog is far too intriguing in this fight. If Rampage can get his famous left hook to land on the untouched Jones, it is tough to see him surviving. Let’s go with the big underdog just for fun.
Prediction: Jackson via TKO Round 3
Matt Hughes (45-8) vs. Josh Koscheck (15-5)
Josh Koscheck is finally returning after suffering a broken orbital in his loss to champion Georges St. Pierre, and he could not possibly be happier about his opponent. Koscheck has been asking for Matt Hughes for years but the UFC has chosen against setting up the fight. After Diego Sanchez was pulled from the card due to a broken hand, Koscheck happily replaced him. It is a battle between two wrestlers, though stylistically different in their grappling pedigree. Koscheck has the better amateur wrestling credentials and considered one of the best in MMA. Hughes is a fantastic submission wrestler, similar to a catch wrestling specialist. Grappling will likely cancel out in this fight as Koscheck would love to keep it standing. He has a lot of power in both hands and he will be throwing his overhand right until it lands. Hughes has always struggled against strikers, as proven against Thiago Alves and his most recent 21 second loss to B.J. Penn. Hughes does not carry a lot of power in his punches but does have decent technical striking, but that likely will be very ineffective against a faster and stronger Koscheck. Unfortunately for the 37 year old hall of famer, he is a bit too old to have success against a hungry Koscheck, who wants to get himself back to the top after being dominated by the champion. This could very well be the last time we witness Matt Hughes in MMA.
Prediction: Koscheck via KO Round 2
Travis Browne (11-0-1) vs. Rob Broughton (15-5-1)
A war between two massive heavyweight prospects, fans have to believe that this fight was set up to showcase the potential of undefeated Travis Browne. If Broughton can manage to get the fight to the ground, he should be able to have the advantage against the untested grappling of Browne. Broughton has to be able to work his submissions which may be a problem because of his lack of wrestling credentials. Browne will tower over Broughton with a 4 inch height and reach advantage and he will use that to keep
his distance. Watching his fight against Struve shows his top of the line striking and his fight against Kongo proves that his potential is real. With another win, it should skyrocket Browne to go up against some of the divisions best. Broughton has only had 1 fight in the UFC and it was a victory over the little known Vinicius Queiroz, but he does have nice wins over Oli Thompson and Neil Grove. A win over Browne would be a great addition to his resume but Browne is far too polished in his striking to allow that to happen. He should be able to keep his distance and keep the fight standing as he picks apart Broughton, making the fight short and sweet as he gets another finish.
Prediction: Browne via TKO Round 1
Nate Diaz (13-7) vs. Takanori Gomi (32-7)
It is rare to guarantee fight of the night for any card, but there is no denying which fight will get the bonus money by the time the event ends. Takanori Gomi is a Japanese MMA legend and made his mark in the UFC last year with a quick KO of Tyson Griffin. He has not been fed a single easy fight, also having to go up against Kenny Florian and Clay Guida in his short UFC career. After losing via gogoplata to Nick Diaz (later changed to a no contest), Gomi must look to get revenge on the Diaz family by finding a way to beat his younger brother, Nate. After a short four fight move away from the lightweight division, the former Ultimate Fighter winner returns in hopes to get into the title picture. Defeating a legend in Gomi will help him move closer to that goal. Gomi has some of the best power in the lightweight division and is extremely physically strong for a smaller fighter, but he is going up against one of the craftiest young
fighters in the UFC. Despite being over powered in his last two fights against the much larger Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim, he showed plenty of heart in both fights as he refused to be finished. His awkward striking mixed in with his phenomenal BJJ makes him very dangerous. Of his 13 wins, he has only been victorious in a single decision, finishing 12 opponents and only being finished once. That makes it hard to see Gomi finishing Diaz, which may be his only way to emerge victorious. Watch for Diaz to frustrate Gomi in the stand-up with his jabs, forcing Gomi to shoot for a takedown, as he enters Nate’s comfort zone. How about a gogoplata for his older brother?
Prediction: Diaz via Gogoplata Round 3
Ben Rothwell (31-7) vs. Mark Hunt (6-7)
A tough fight to call, despite the fighter’s records saying otherwise, should be a very fun to watch for fans. Ben Rothwell has been out since June of 2010 and is prepared to get back on track against the Pride veteran, Mark Hunt. He carries a very well rounded attack, though he is not an elite heavyweight; however, he can be a good gatekeeper for the promotion. He has strong submission wrestling as well as good knockout power, but he shouldn’t look to stand with Hunt. Hunt is a K-1 fighter with a very impressive striking repertoire. His last fight against Chris Tuchscherer showed his outstanding knockout power and his ability to keep the fight standing. If he can stop Rothwell’s takedowns than he gives himself a strong chance at coming out with the win. Hunt’s biggest problem is that he is very prone to submissions. Of his 7 losses, 6 of those were submissions. The only way he can win is to avoid giving Rothwell the chance to submit him. Rothwell has good knockout power and strong boxing, but it is tough to see him stand up against such a seasoned K-1 veteran. He has to clinch with Hunt and work the fence to get his takedowns to avoid the powerful short uppercut of Hunt. If he uses an aggressive gameplan similar to the one he used against Gilbert Yvel, he should be able to get the easy submission or work his way towards a decision. Though that may take away from the potential excitement of this fight, it may be Rothwell’s best opportunity to win.
Prediction: Rothwell via Unanimous Decision
Nick Ring (12-0) vs. Tim Boetsch (13-4)
Canadian Middleweight, Nick Ring, is looking to prove his worth in the UFC as he goes up against the very large Tim Boetsch. The Canadian was a favourite to win the Ultimate Fighter but suffered an unfortunate setback. He has yet to lose in his young career and has won both of his fights in the UFC. His first, however, drew a great deal of controversy, as he was controlled for the final two rounds of the fight by Riki Fukuda. Many expected that to be his first ever professional loss, however, the judges unanimously seen the fight as Ring’s victory. His next fight against James Head showcased his true potential and what people can hope to expect from Ring. Boetsch, however, presents a new and more difficult challenge. He is one of the larger Middleweights and considering he was a long time Light-Heavyweight, Ring must be prepared to overcome the size difference. After having a mediocre run at 205 pounds, he dropped down to 185, succeeding in his debut against Ultimate Fighter winner Kendall Grove. Nick Ring is the more talented fighter and he has a great all-around game, but he seems to suffer from Forrest Griffin syndrome where he is good at everything but not great at anything. That will likely hold him back in fights where he has to depend strongly on game planning to find any success. Though Ring
has the potential to stick around the UFC for a while, Boetsch looked too good in his Middleweight debut to believe he will not be able to control the fight. It should be a close fight as Ring’s performance against Fukuda is far from what fans should expect from him, but it was too unattractive to believe he can come out victorious in the toughest fight in his career.
Prediction: Boetsch via Unanimous Decision