DENVER (CBSDFW.COM) – This Saturday, current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones defends his title for the first time against former champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The outcome, if you listen to most, seems to be a foregone conclusion. The champ will steamroll his challenger in route to his first successful title defense. ‘Rampage,’ however, would be quick to argue.
I may be in the minority by picking Jackson to upset the champ, but it’s not without reason. Quinton Jackson is still one of the hardest hitters in the entire world, not just MMA. This was proven by his appearance on Sports Science back in 2007. Jon Jones has yet to have his chin tested during his short, albeit successful career. What about the champ being crowned by his supporters as the number 3, best pound for pound fighter on the planet? How can Jackson overcome such odds? He did it against Lyoto Machida back at UFC 123. Machida was just coming off his first ever loss when he ran into “Rampage”. It wasn’t pretty, but Jackson was able to shut down Machida. That victory, alongside a unanimous decision against Matt Hamill, earned Quinton the title shot. Will he be able to do the same against Jones? I guess we’ll find out this Saturday night.
That’s not my only reason for going with the challenger. I also would like to refer back to another championship fight in which the stage was set much like we see it now. It was the new “It” guy, Georges “Rush” St. Pierre defending his newly won welterweight title against the huge underdog Matt Serra. Nobody believed Serra stood a chance against GSP. Serra earned the title shot by winning Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter, a reality show which featured former UFC fighters competing for a chance to get back into the organization. It was that night in Houston, back at UFC 69, Serra shocked the MMA world by knocking out the champ and leaving GSP wondering, “What happened?” Everyone had already pegged St. Pierre as the guy who would clean out the welterweight division and go on to be the greatest champion of all time. GSP did in fact get his belt back and go on to defend it 6 times and is currently preparing for his latest defense coming next month at UFC 137 against Carlos Condit. But up until his fight against Serra, his chin, much like that of Jones, had not been tested. If Jon Jones gets tagged with a punch from Jackson, what’s going to happen? If “Rampage” takes the champ down and lays into him with some vicious ground and pound, how will Jones react? These are questions that may remain unanswered, even after Saturday. Jackson has to catch Jones on the chin and/or take Jones down for us to know. Will he be able to? For the fans sake, let’s hope so.
If Jon Jones loses Saturday night, it might be the best thing for him. St. Pierre often refers to his defeat at the hands of Serra as the best thing that happened to him. It showed him that he was not invincible, that he could be defeated. Jones has yet to learn such humility. A defeat at the hands of a legend like Jackson could be just the thing needed for Jon Jones to go on to be the greatest light heavyweight that MMA has ever seen. Although, I’m sure the champ would argue that he can go on to achieve such a goal without having to lose his title this Saturday night. Either way, no one can argue the potential for greatness that lies in Jones. Saturday night, the world will find out if that greatness gets derailed.