Sunday, February 19, 2012

UFC 144: Jackson vs Bader, Is "Rampage" worth rooting for anymore?

On the horn:
Johnny Waugh
       A recent Quinton "Rampage" Jackson interview for UFC 144 hype actually raised some interesting questions, including whether or not Jackson's MMA career is something to even care about anymore.
"I never claimed to be a martial artist or a guy who's good at everything," Jackson said. "I'm a street fighter, there's a lot of things I don't care about."
       UFC 144 takes place on February 25, the Saitama Super Arena in Japan will be host to the return of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (32-9) to his PRIDE Fighting faithful. Jackson is a huge name in Japan, especially since his time in PRIDE and his power bomb KO victory over Ricardo Arona in 2004. Initially it was thought that Jackson may take on Stephan "The American Psycho" Bonnar in Japan, but when officials announced he would be taking on Ryan Bader (13-2) instead, Jackson seemed not to care about the skills Bader possesses. In fact Jackson doesn't seem to find any interest in anything his opponents do or being known as one of the best fighters in the world on the same token. 

       It seems pretty straight forward that Jackson doesn't care to be at the top of the food chain in the sport any longer. Yes, Jackson wants to put on the best shows he can for fans, but he doesn't seem to have any interest in the concept of mixed martial arts as a whole. It's personally disappointing that Jackson doesn't truly "try" to be the whole package so to speak. Jackson is known to train hard during camp and come into fights in top condition most times. The problem seems to be that, although he may have trained in different aspects of the game to push opponents into more of a stand a bang fight with Jackson, he hasn't given the impression that he has learned or studied judo, wrestling, jui jitsu, kenpo and even boxing because he wanted to be the best fighter he could be. The interview highlights the fact that Jackson's mindset of "street fighting" is the only one he's seemingly had in his career.
"I don't care to know what my opponent's doing, I don't care to know his skills because I'm a brawler," Jackson said. "In a street fight you just walk up to someone and start fighting, you don't have any tape on this guy."
       I agree, Quinton Jackson knocking someone out as a fan of the sport is highly entertaining and worth the buying buck. The fact that Jackson is upset that his last fight for the UFC light heavyweight title against Jon Jones wasn't more like just walking up to the guy next to the gas pump and beating him down, as if to prove his skills as a "brawler" are the best in the world is what's disheartening about his interview. Many fans learning the sport coincided with Jackson's ascension in MMA. It's now starting to look like Jackson's mind set of "just punch me or you're not a fighter" hasn't evolved as much as the growth of mixed martial arts knowledge in the ever growing fan base of the sport.
"I could give a rat's a** whether I can beat Ryan Bader or not, I just want to put on the best show the world has ever seen," Jackson said. 
       I am not sure how Jackson intends to put on the best shows that fans have ever seen if he apparently doesn't even need to know who or where he is fighting. As fans of mixed martial arts, many clearly enjoy watching MMA, and that's the reason why the UFC is known for putting on the best shows in the sport. The UFC has some of the better mixed martial artists in the world under contract, if Jackson doesn't want to be a martial artist then it is strange that he is still in the UFC himself. It is interesting that he complains so much about his opponents not solely standing and trading strikes with him, yet he is in the organization known the world over for MMA not brawling. Bader thinks beating Jackson will put him on top of the ladder and solidify his reputation, but it seems harder to determine how high up in the division Bader could get with a win over a man that doesn't even study his opponents any longer.
"Beating Rampage would solidify my career, it would put me up in the upper echelon of fighters in the light heavyweight division," Bader said.
       It's hard to say the victory would do much in the eyes of anyone if Jackson himself is saying he doesn't even care if he can beat Bader anyway.

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