The Pros Pick: Rampage vs. Griffin

By Mike Sloan Jul 5, 2008
As time draws near for Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to defend his UFC light heavyweight title against challenger Forrest Griffin (Pictures), the world of mixed martial arts is rampant with so-called experts who think they have the outcome pegged. Fans and media alike break down the basics of the matchup as if it were a chemistry lab, but a select few in the know might have the upper hand in handicapping.

Sherdog.com got the skinny on several people who ought to know the outcome of Jackson-Griffin better than anybody: professional fighters and trainers. Here the pros weigh in on the main event of UFC 86:

Frank Shamrock (Pictures): "Rampage will smash him. Round two, ground-and-pound."

Tyson Griffin: "Forrest is an animal. He's so focused right now and he's training harder than I've ever seen him train before. He's been kicking everybody's ass here at Xtreme Couture. He trains so much and is so intense, I truly believe he's probably training at four other gyms without letting anybody know. I just think Forrest will use his cardio to out-work Rampage and wear him down. I wouldn't be surprised if he even stops Rampage late."

Dan Henderson (Pictures): "If Rampage is in shape, he'll win. I don't see Forrest finishing him unless Quinton gasses. I like Rampage."

Alan Belcher (Pictures): "I think this will be a great fight. Forrest will be all over Rampage and could possibly win. I will have to be honest and say Forrest by TKO in the second round."

Din Thomas (Pictures): "Forrest is the gamest fighter in the business. Not too many guys have the ability to consistently dominate him. So with that, I think the champ will be just a slight step ahead of him the whole fight. Rampage is strong. He has good strength. Rampage by decision."

Dewey Cooper (Pictures): "This fight is a classic contrast of styles. Explosive raw power versus incredible stamina and resilience. No one trains as much or harder than Forrest. He trains nonstop, always in top condition and can never be overlooked against any opponent. The only possible problem I predict with Forrest in this fight is his courage, in which I think he has too much. His heart may cost him the fight because he most likely will try to go toe-to-toe, punch-to-punch with Quinton. He will not use strategy. He will be too courageous against Rampage and probably get himself into trouble.

"As for Rampage, what can you say? He's mean, he's powerful and he's dead serious about remaining the champ. His pressure style is a problem for anyone in the light heavyweight division. His explosive, heavy-handed punching style and physical strength always poses a problem for anyone fighting him. Quinton's only real weakness is defending kicks to the leg or body as well as defending the clinch knee strikes late in the fight. Quinton has to defend kicks because I'm sure Forrest will try to kick more than usual early in the fight to create distance for himself and to keep Rampage off of him.

"My prediction -- I love both guys -- I think Rampage will eventually catch Forrest and KO him. I think Forrest will be winning until Quinton catches him."

Eddy Millis (Pictures): "Although Forrest is one of the hardest working fighters out there, I think Quinton out-powers him and wins by TKO."

Jens Pulver (Pictures): "Forrest pushes the pace. Forrest will have trouble with Quinton's agility, and that's about it. Quinton lands the shot and keeps it standing. [Quinton] wins."

Randy Couture (Pictures): "I think Forrest is a very big 205-pounder, long and rangy. I think he needs to use that length to his advantage, keep his posture and use the long jabs and long hooks and make Rampage fight through that to get inside. Rampage is shorter, explosive and compact. He's going to have to ‘Joe Frazier' it to get in and hit Forrest. So, if Forrest uses footwork and sticks and moves, he could make it hard on Rampage.

"Both guys have a tendency to bang, which lends itself to somebody not walking out of there and the fight not going the distance. But Forrest is another one that's been working a lot on his wrestling. He's been coming up with Heath, Dan and Whitehead and spending a lot of time on his Greco, his clinch game and his ground skills, so I think he's developed some things that might surprise people, most notably Rampage. That's the real key for him, to not get in a slugfest with Rampage and be elusive, move his head, stick and move, use his length and size to his advantage. And then when he does close, close all the way to the clinch and use his size and some of the wrestling skills he isn't being given credit for having at this stage to see if he can get top position. He's a big, strong guy. He'll be hard to get out from underneath of."
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