By Staff Reporter Robert Bock
On Saturday night, February 25 at UFC 144, Ryan Bader bullied his way to a win over high-ranked veteran Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Besides a beacon of a slam, resembling his old self, Rampage sat back and watched a very game Ryan Bader dismantle him in a 3 round Unanimous Decision.
With talks of an injury, and a 6-pound overweight Rampage to support the rumors, Jackson, like the majority of other fighters ever to weigh in overweight, lost. With injuries, missing weight, and losing 20% of his purse, it was no surprise there was a little more Quinton and a lot less Rampage.
The fight opened with a competitive round on the feet. Rampage stalked Bader around the octagon looking to earn the early KO. Bader kept the distance and used “kryptonite” in leg kicks to keep Rampage’s power in check and at a safe distance. Rampage protested with some “Diaz brother” like hand gestures, followed by a take-down attempt against the former Division one champ. Bader stuffed the shot and went to work against the cage landing knees, punches, and controlling the former champ. Although Rampage’s take-down defense looked promising, it was Bader’s bully like cage control that won him the round. Round one went to Bader 10-9.
With the second round underway, Rampage came out looking for another shot. Uncharacteristic and unsuccessful, Bader used the closed distance to push Rampage against the cage one more time. This time, Rampage caught a knee, picked Bader up, flipped him over, and slammed him on his head. Although it was nice to see the PRIDE side of Rampage, one we know and love, the “spike” was actually illegal. Illegal, but not called, Rampage would use the opportunity to land some heavy blows from the top. A dazed Bader found a way to recover quickly and earn his own take-down against Rampage. Besides a momentary stand up and slam back down to the canvas, the rest of the round concluded with Bader in the top dominant position. Round two went to Bader 10-9.
One final half-hearted power punch from Rampage and a powerful shot from Bader sealed the deal for this match up. With a few minor scrambles and offense from Bader on top, the fight concluded in an underwhelming, but effective manner. Scoring the round Bader 10-9, and fight 30-27 for Bader.
It was an interesting fight. Not taking anything away from a great fight from Ryan Bader, Rampage Jackson was definitely not himself. Paying close attention to Rampage in his corner between rounds, you see him not just resting his hand but also rubbing his left knee. That, and him not putting weight on his left leg for his left hook, convince me that a left knee injury definitely played a factor into how he fought his fight.
With a fight changing injury, we can only speculate why Rampage didn’t pull out of this fight. Maybe because he’s tough, but I’m willing to bet it was for the Japanese fans that have been so good to him since the beginning of his career. Even with a below average performance, we can only thank him for sticking it out for a great fight and even more, a great SLAM!
All excuses aside, my hat is off to Ryan Bader, who came in to this fight as the underdog and the bad guy against Japan’s favorite bad boy and truly impressed with a well-rounded performance. He kick boxed, clinched, and showcased powerful take-downs to once again put him as a top prospect for a top 5 slot in a very competitive division.