Jon Jones will enter the UFC 135 main event as a heavy favorite. | Photo: Terry Goodlad
The Pepsi Center in Denver will be the place to be on Saturday, as UFC 135 descends upon the Mile High City with one of the more intriguing main events of 2011. There, in a crossroads fight, reigning light heavyweight king Jon Jones will defend his crown against former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Will the man they call “Bones” continue his meteoric rise, or will experience pave Rampage’s way to another high-profile victory?
Sherdog.com recently touched base with a number of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the UFC 135 “Jones vs. Rampage” main event:
Jake Ellenberger: I’m going to have to go with Jones. I think it’s going to be a really great fight. They are both extremely experienced and they’re both champions, but I’m going to give the edge to Jones because he’s young, I think a little bit hungrier and he’s bringing a few more tools to the table. I’m gonna have to go with Jones.
Mike Constantino: I think Jones will win this fight with ground-and-pound. I see Bones mixing up the striking and controlling the distance from the outside with long kicks, mixed with punches. He then gets the takedown after closing the distance, employs his ground-and-pound with elbows and repeats the process for as long as it takes to get the TKO.
Aaron Riley: Well, I’m going to go with Jon, of course. I mean, he’s my teammate. I’ve seen all the preparation, and he’s already a very unorthodox fighter; and just in seeing the improvements he’s been making in camp, I think he’s just going to build on top of the amazing skills he already has.
Daniel Cormier: I’m picking Jones to beat Rampage by TKO in the second round. I just think Jones is too athletic and physically gifted for Rampage at this point in his career. He’s predominantly a boxer right now, but Jon does it all. Jon wrestles, he does jiu jitsu, he does striking. He’s just too much for Rampage at this point in his career.
Nam Phan: I think in this case I gotta root for the less cocky guy. I’m gonna go with Rampage on this one.
Kyle Kingsbury: Jones by TKO.
Erik Paulson: This fight is Rampage working hard to stay on top. He is gonna work to match up with the champ’s youth, length and overall unorthodox style. Quinton is a stud with super strong hips, good boxing and great tenacity. Jones has a title to defend and is undoubtedly the king of surprises. He has a spry will and surprising game. Quinton has to only win this fight based on his conditioning and proper game plan implementation. It’s gonna be fun to watch the youth fighting the accomplished.
Jose Aldo: The fight won’t last five rounds. Rampage has excellent boxing and is aggressive. Jones is strong and comes into the Octagon at an excellent moment in his career. There will be a knockout, but I’m not betting on anyone.
Travis Lutter: I think Jones will win this one. Rampage is always dangerous, but I think Jones is going to be hard to beat. We may finally see Rampage fight off his back.
Jason Lambert: Rampage by TKO.
Gustavo Pugliese: It’s going to be an explosive bout while it lasts. Both men have the ability to finish their opponents; however, this is another good fight for Jones to showcase his multi-dimensional form of attack. This kid can fight going backwards really well. Rampage is going to find himself in a trap when putting pressure and moving forward trying to close the gap. I believe Rampage is going to walk into all kinds of strikes. Jones needs to be careful with Rampage’s one-and-done punch. I see an early third-round TKO for Jones. He will drop Rampage with strikes and finish him up on the ground.
Willamy “Chiquerim” Freire: Jones by KO.
Travis Wiuff: Great fight, but I think Jones wins by referee stoppage in the third round. Rampage has his moments in this fight and pushes Jones like no one has yet.
Eric Pele: How can you bet against Bones? The kid is on fire. I’m an underdog kinda guy, so I’ll take Rampage, but he needs to be on point like never before; there is absolutely no room for error against this beast in Jones. Even with all that said, he still might not have enough for the win. Will this be Rampage’s swan song? We shall see. Whatever happens, I hope it delivers a long and brutal fight, not just a blowout on either side but a back-and-fourth battle. Damn, I love this s---.
Yves Edwards: I think Jones is too skilled in too many areas. That being said, Rampage may have a puncher’s chance, though we have never seen Jones in any kind of trouble -- ever. Jones should win this one pretty handily.
Javier Vazquez: I love Quinton. I will be cheering for him because I’m a fan, but he has a huge task ahead of him. So far, Jones appears to be unbeatable. I’m not completely sold on him just yet. For one reason or another, he has not been pushed yet. If Quinton can touch Jones’ chin and he can survive, come back and win, I will be sold on Jones. I think Jones will be too much technically and will TKO Jackson in the second or third round. Jackson, in my opinion, is a tough and solid Top 10 light heavyweight, but I don’t think he will be champion anytime soon. We will see if Jones is the future or not in this one.
“Razor” Rob McCullough: It’s gonna be dynamite.
Matt Pena: This could be Jones’ toughest matchup yet if Rampage decides to exchange with Jon and not let him dictate action and get off first. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Rampage upset Jones, but when I’m playing the numbers, I have to say Jones by ground-and-pound. Jones’ range and bag of tricks from the striking perspective will freeze up Rampage, allowing Jones to transition into a takedown and finish Rampage on the ground.
Greg Nelson: Well, I think it is a change of the old to the new -- the old out and the new in. Jones will out-slick and outstrike Rampage. Jones’ conditioning and continual barrage of straight forward and unorthodox strikes will be a bit too much for Rampage. Jones will also control the takedown game and end up on top and drop the smart bombs. Jones just may stop Rampage.
Fabio Maldonado: Jones on points.
Sam Hoger: Rampage is spending a million dollars, from what I have gathered, on this training camp. He says he needs money, but he is really going to need money after Jones tools him and his boxercise style of fighting. He will not be tough enough to win this. I mean, we saw what Forrest did to him and I beat Forrest in at least one round.
Jorge Lopez: I think Jones will win via stoppage in the second -- Thai clinch and knees to the face.
Mac Danzig: Rampage by figure-four leg lock at 4:37 in the fourth round.
Hector Ramirez: My prediction is Rampage via TKO win over Jones.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: It’s only a matter of time until Jones loses a fight in the UFC. Can Rampage beat Jones? I think he can if he gets inside and lands some hooks and uppercuts. Chances are that Jones will use his reach to lure Rampage into a standup fight, and, when the time is right, Jones will take him down and make Rampage work from his guard, which has to be his weakest skill. I see Jones winning this fight with elbows, similar to the Brandon Vera fight. The good news is that it sets up the fight everyone wants to see with Rashad Evans.
Andre Pederneiras: Jones by KO.
Pat Healy: I’m going with Jones. I think Quinton seems to be kind of checked out of fighting. He’s so concerned with making money and being a movie star, and I think Jones is going to take it to him. I think Jones will stop him in the second round with ground-and-pound.
Finish Reading » This is a bad style match for Rampage because Jones can use his reach and takedowns to mix it up. I want Rampage to win, but I think Jones is smart enough to take him down and beat on him.