Category Archives: Quinton Jackson

Fighter of the Year: Is There Really Any Debate?

Now that 2007 has closed its books, a number of MMA websites have put out their ‘Best of the Year’ awards and top ten lists. One of the more interesting discussions happening right now is over who deserves to be called Fighter of the Year for 2007. Sherdog.com apparently thinks that honor belongs to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Sam Caplan over at Five Ounces of Pain concurs. Personally, I find this baffling. Not because I don’t think “Rampage” had a good year, but because I think it’s pretty obvious who had an even better one: Anderson Silva.

While Jackson’s accomplishments (most notably upsetting Chuck Liddell for the UFC light heavyweight title) may have been more visible, Silva’s were more impressive. Not that there aren’t similarities, but when compared head to head there’s no doubt in my mind that Silva had the tougher and more dominant year:

– Both men fought three times and won all three in 2007. Jackson started by beating professional heavy bag Marvin Eastman for his entrance into the UFC, while Silva dismantled TUF winner Travis Lutter. While neither of those guys are world beaters, Lutter is certainly the more dangerous and more legitimate opponent, no question.

Advantage: Silva

– Both men defended their world titles against former champs in impressive fashion. Silva came into the year with the middleweight strap and none of his three opponents even got close enough to smell the leather. Jackson surprised Liddell in his second fight of the year and then retained the title against former Pride champ Dan Henderson.

Silva beat ex-champ Rich Franklin in brutal fashion, again, as well as former King of Pancrase Nathan Marquardt. Both, essentially, beat two championship-caliber opponents in ’07, but when Jackson fought Henderson he was really fighting a natural middleweight, as evidenced by Henderson’s move down since that fight. Even then, he won via decision. Silva absolutely destroyed everyone he faced, and looked leaps and bounds ahead of them in the process.

Advantage: Silva

– Both entered the UFC from other organizations and hit the ground running. Silva did so in 2006 and Rampage just this past year, but the difference is that Silva has been facing nothing but top competition the last few years and has yet to be taken past the second round in the UFC. “Rampage” was coming off two decision victories over Matt Lindland (a middleweight) and Dong Sik Yoon (a judo fighter with a losing record) and a TKO over Hirotaka Tokoi (who?). I realize it’s slightly unfair to compare their acheivements the previous year for the purposes of this discussion, but the point is that Silva has had to climb a tougher ladder to get to this point, while “Rampage” was at least partially propelled into a quick title shot by his obvious marketability.

Advantage: Silva

All this isn’t to say that Jackson didn’t also have a banner year. Winning a world title and defending it against someone like Dan Henderson gives him plenty to put on his Christmas cards. But I have the sneaking suspicion that Silva is getting overlooked here because he isn’t as vocal or as visible in the MMA world as “Rampage” (who is?), and because of language barriers his interaction with the American media is limited.

Silva’s fights this past year, particularly his last bout with Franklin, verge on artistry. He’s a joy to watch, to put it simply. His biggest problem at the moment is a lack of credible opponents. But that is, as Marlowe Stanfield would say, one of them good problems.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Anderson Silva, MMA, Quinton Jackson, Sports, UFC

Wave Goodbye To The Light Heavyweight Title

The very poorly kept secret is now official: Forrest Griffin and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will be the two coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, culminating in a title fight at the end of the show. And you thought the UFC would learn from their mistakes.

After making the announcement Dana White promised there would be big formatting changes to the show, but apparently not to the strategy of taking a major championship belt out of circulation for months in order to hype a fight on reality TV. So when’s the next time we’ll see the 205-pound title on the line? How about the summer of 2008.

Honestly, this has to stop. At this rate we’ll see a title defense in MMA’s most exciting and (arguably) most talent-heavy division about once a year. The same strategy backfired in the Serra-Hughes debacle, and it adds to the UFC’s existing championship title woes. Now that the light heavyweight strap is on the shelf, it joins the welterweight belt (the real one, not the interim one), and the heavyweight one that Randy Couture “retired” with.

So what’s left, you ask? Well, there’s the lightweight belt, which Sean Sherk was just stripped of and which will go to the winner of Penn-Stevenson in January. There’s the middleweight title, which seems to be staying put around Anderson Silva’s waist, especially if Dan Henderson fails to take it from him. And, of course, there’s the interim welterweight title, which is fancy talk for the number one contender belt.

I guess the question is, how, exactly, does the UFC plan to get from now to this summer? If you figure they hold about one pay-per-view a month, and if there are at least six months to go until Jackson-Griffin could happen, that leaves some real holes in the PPV lineups. The lightweight title fight happens in January, then the middleweight title in February. After that, I suppose they can force some kind of bout for the vacant heavyweight title, assuming Couture is still missing in action. But that still leaves three months for them to rinse and repeat.

That could force the interim welterweight title to go on the line again if Serra isn’t well enough to fight by April, or it could result in more pay-per-views that are without a true main event.

My main complaint with this process is that it’s so unnecessary to build up a title fight between Jackson and Griffin. “Rampage” is a walking PR machine, and Griffin was the hero of the first season of TUF, so it’s not as if either of them needs to be introduced to the American TV audience. Not to mention, it really dampens my enthusiasm for the reality show now that I correlate the announcement of the coaches with the announcement of who won’t be fighting for a really long time. Meanwhile, the MMA landscape changes shape and moves on.

Another thing that troubles me about this model is the way it appears to be edging towards the follies of boxing. I have always loved that MMA didn’t put all its hopes into having one good fight for each pay-per-view and a bunch of guys no one really cared about filling out the undercard. But this stinginess with title fights makes me think we’re headed in that direction, as much as I hate to say it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Forrest Griffin, MMA, Quinton Jackson, Sports, The Ultimate Fighter, UFC, Uncategorized

Is “Rampage” For Real? Plus, Other Post-UFC Thoughts and Regrets

Halfway through last night’s title fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan (I guess we’re calling him “Dangerous” now?) Henderson, I couldn’t help but wonder i f maybe both these guys had something important to do after the bout. It was as if neither wanted to take a chance on expending too much energy by really trying for the finish, despite the fact that this was supposed to be the big time title unification bout.

I could understand a somewhat slow pace in the first round. Feeling one another out is normal, and the match was scheduled for five rounds, which is a long time just to keep your hands up in front of your face. But neither of these two really seemed to go for broke at any point.

The closest either came was a couple of heavy flurries from Jackson and a couple of attempted kimura locks from Henderson (though he seemed more interested in using them to reverse position than as a submission). Several times Henderson gained side mount only to wait for Jackson to escape.

In the fifth round I really expected to see at least Henderson – who had to know he was behind on the scorecards, what with Matt Lindland yelling at him between rounds – take a risk and try to make something big happen.

That moment never came, and Jackson got a hard-earned decision. A drop to middleweight is the best course for Hendo now. The size and strength difference is evident.

As for Jackson, he looked like a real fighter for the first time in a long time. No longer relying on pure aggression and power, he showed some technique and some poise. Maybe having a steady training camp and little more maturity with age is paying off.

Next stop: rematch with “Shogun” Rua?

“Cro Cop” Fizzles

I think it’s finally time to put to rest the notion that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is among the world’s most feared strikers. Cheick Kongo easily handled him for three rounds and only seemed to gain confidence with each failed high kick from the Croatian.

(Note to UFC commentator Mike Goldberg: I understand why you went out of your way to say that “Cro Cop” was a one-time member of the Croatian Parliament, and that it’s a governmental body equivalent to the U.S. Senate, but even you had to realize how silly you sounded.)

It’s going to be hard for the UFC to know what to do with “Cro Cop” now. There simply isn’t a good match-up out there for him anymore. They may try to put him against somebody they want to get over with the fans, but it’s debatable whether “Cro Cop” has any heat left at all after this showing.

Bisping Gets Hometown Love

The worst decision of the night came in the light heavyweight bout between TUF winner Michael Bisping and deaf former college wrestling champion Matt Hamill.

(Another note to Goldberg: Did you really say that the Div. III champion Hamill was the most decorated wrestler to enter the Octagon in a long time? Really? Somewhere Josh Koscheck is pissed, and Matt Lindland just shakes his head and shrugs at Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.)

Hamill looked better than ever, particularly in his striking game and stand-up defense. With his natural ability he could end up being a serious contender at 205 lbs. someday, though he’s still unable to do much on the mat after the takedown. Bisping was a game fighter from beginning to end, but he didn’t deserve the split decision victory and had the fight taken place in any other country, he wouldn’t have gotten it.

Now I know how Brazilians feel when they fight in the U.S.

Yet again we see judge Cecil Peoples on the wrong end of a bad decision. Granted, one other judge saw it the same way, but Peoples is a repeat offender. I mean, he must be bad because he’s the only MMA judge I can even name. It’s getting to the point where fighters who’ve just put on a strong performance have to feel a little sick when they hear the phrase, “and judge Cecil Peoples scores the bout…”

Seriously, someone ought to go stand by Peoples and make sure he’s really watching the fights. Maybe give him pop quizzes throughout just to keep his attention, and not just on the fight at hand either. Let’s see if he can judge any dispute between two conflicting parties.

Quick, Cecil, who won World War II?

It’s either that, or let’s get a more competent judge in there. I’m thinking maybe one of those chickens that can play Tic-Tac-Toe. I hear they work cheap.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cecil Peoples, Dan Henderson, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Quinton Jackson, UFC 75

Is UFC 75’s Main Event a True Unification Bout?

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is the UFC’s newly crowned light heavyweight champion.  Dan Henderson was the reigning middleweight and light heavyweight champion at the time of Pride’s decline and fall.  But now that Pride is just a pleasant memory, does this still count as a title unification bout?

Short answer: maybe not technically, but it’s close enough.

I mean, let’s be honest.  It’s not the kind of unification bout that Fedor Emelianenko versus Randy Couture would be.  That’s the stuff pay-per-view dreams are made of.  But this is good enough for now.

What we have is a former Pride fighter in Jackson (who was, let’s not forget, basically spit out the bottom of the ranks and into the quickly defunct WFA) who caught a quick break in the UFC based mainly on his charisma and marketability.  He beat Chuck Liddell for the title, and no one can take that away from him.  I have a feeling that if they fought ten more times Liddell would win nine, but it doesn’t work that way.

That being said, championship reigns have been built on frailer ground.  “Rampage” is the UFC champ, and that’s that.  But what of Henderson?

He was most successful in Pride as a 185-pounder until he went up in weight for a second time and destroyed Wanderlei Silva.  Of course, Silva fans will tell you that Wanderlei lost because he was battling everything from injuries to illnesses to Brazilian gypsy curses, but that’s irrelevant now.

All sources indicate that debuting as a light heavyweight in the UFC was Henderson’s idea, which is a little surprising.  He’s a bulldog of a fighter with almost no finesse in his game, and going up against 205-pounders means giving up size and strength.  Of his five losses, four are against light heavyweights.

It begs the question: did Henderson decide to fight at 205 pounds before or after Jackson won the title?

The main argument against this fight as a unification affair is that it’s essentially two Pride fighters going at it.  It doesn’t give us a good sense of which organization had the superior champion, at least not the way the Liddell-Silva bout would have back before Silva started to look like a fighter on the way down.

But the truth is Pride is gone now, so the question now longer matters.  The time to have a true unification bout was last summer.  It didn’t happen.  What we can get from this bout is an end to the bickering.  Whoever wins is the legitimate 205-pound UFC champ, making him the legitimate 205-pound  MMA champ, at least for the time being.

Either way, Liddell will have an opportunity to earn his way back to a title fight.  So will “Shogun” Rua, and so will Wanderlei Silva.  If what we’re looking for is some kind of bout to cement a permanent champ, forget it.  This is the best we’re going to get, and kudos to the UFC for making it happen right away and putting it on free TV in the U.S.

The influx of Pride fighters into the UFC is a great thing for fight fans.  But not because it gives us the opportunity to match them up against each other over and over again with the hopes of proving which organization was “better”.  That’s silly and ultimately answers nothing.

It’s a great thing because it means better fighters, more competitive bouts, and a seemingly endless train of legitimate contenders at almost every weight class.  You can’t ask for much more than that, though that’s never stopped anyone from trying.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, UFC 75