Jon Jones (left) dominated Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135. | AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
The youngest champion in Ultimate Fighting Championship history has now successfully defended one of the sport’s most volatile titles.
Jon Jones retained his light heavyweight crown in stirring fashion, as he submitted Quinton “Rampage” Jackson with a fourth-round rear-naked choke in the UFC 135 headliner on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Unable to free himself from the champion’s grip, Jackson (32-9, 7-3 UFC) surrendered 74 seconds into round four. It was the first time he had lost via submission in more than a decade.
“My coaches told me that he was starting to break a little bit,” Jones said, “and that if I wanted to finish the fight, that this was the round to do it.”
Jones’ length proved an impenetrable wall for the challenger. Jabs and kicks to the body, head and legs were the centerpieces of a flawless performance from the 205-pound champion. Jones controlled every phase of the game, pressed the clinch and delivered his trademark spinning back elbow in the first round. Jackson was spellbound.
Jones (14-1, 8-1 UFC) picked up his pace in the third round, as he struck for a takedown, moved immediately to side control and then to full mount. From there, he unleashed his hellacious elbows, planting a lateral cut above Jackson’s right eye. In round four, he put the exclamation point on his fifth consecutive victory, as he staggered Jackson with a left hook and powered him to the ground with a front headlock. Jackson surrendered his back and, in no time, Jones cinched the choke for the finish.
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” Jackson said. “I expected to close the distance and overthrow Jon Jones, but he’s great, guys. I thought it was hype, but the kid is good. I have to take my hat off to him. This is the best I’ve ever been. Jon Jones is here to stay. Whoever fights him next, I don’t know, man. I can’t see nobody beating him. This is the best Rampage ever, and he kind of had me mesmerized.”
Koscheck Hammerfists Finish Hughes
In the co-main event, Josh Koscheck overcame an awkward start against hall of famer Matt Hughes, staggered the two-time welterweight champion with a right hook and followed him to the canvas when he retreated there, finishing it with a series of thudding hammerfists. The bout was called 4:59 into round one.
Hughes (45-9, 18-7 UFC) started strong, shooting jabs and right uppercuts into Koscheck’s face. However, the right hook proved the equalizer, and from that point forward, Hughes was never the same. Once on the ground, he failed to control Koscheck’s posture. Brutal standing-to-ground punches forced him to his stomach, and Koscheck (16-5, 14-5 UFC) pounced with the fight-ending hammerfists.
“I just want to say thanks to Matt Hughes for taking this fight late in his career,” Koscheck said. “He’s a legend, and I’m proud I had the opportunity to fight a legend like Matt Hughes.”
Afterward, Hughes admitted he may have set foot inside the Octagon for the final time. If he does walk away, the 37-year-old will do so as the all-time leader in UFC wins (18) and appearances (25).
“I’m not retiring. I’m going to tell the UFC to put me on the shelf, and we’ll see what happens after that,” Hughes said. “I loved the crowd support I got out here. I had a great training camp.”
Hunt Bloodies, Outlasts Rothwell
Mark Hunt emerged victorious from what can only be described as a war of attrition, as he battered and bloodied Ben Rothwell en route to a unanimous decision in a featured heavyweight tilt. All three judges scored it for Hunt (7-7, 2-1 UFC): 29-28, 29-27 and 30-27. By the time it was over, the two combatants were exhausted and had to be helped to their corners.
Rothwell (31-8, 1-2 UFC) delivered two first-round takedowns and mounted the New Zealander, but Hunt escaped from the bottom without incurring much damage. On the feet, he was clearly superior. In the second round, Hunt began to land with more frequency and authority, opening a nasty cut above Rothwell’s right eye with an elbow.
Competing for the first time in more than a year, Rothwell had nothing left to offer by the end of round two. His trainer, former world kickboxing champion Duke Roufus, rushed in, picked him up off the canvas and all but carried him back to the stool. Hunt, himself in the throes of utter fatigue, went for the knockout and blasted Rothwell with power shots at various points in the third round. Rothwell stumbled around the cage in a stupor, but he refused to give in, sending it to the judges.
Browne Tops Broughton on Points
Travis Browne remained undefeated with a one-sided but pedestrian unanimous decision over former Cage Rage champion Rob Broughton in a heavyweight showcase. The 6-foot-7 Hawaiian swept the scorecards by matching 30-27 counts.
Browne (12-0-1, 3-0-1 UFC) utilized low kicks from the perimeter and took down the British import with ease, mounting him in all three rounds. His offense was sporadic, however, and trailed off noticeably as the fight progressed. Browne put together a nice second-round flurry in which he blasted Broughton (15-6-1, 1-1 UFC) with punches and knees, but he could not finish it and eased his foot off the gas.
Outside of another Browne takedown, mount and ground-and-pound, neither man did much in the final frame. Broughton threatened briefly with a kimura from the bottom but failed to lock up Browne’s body with his legs, allowing for an easy escape.
Diaz Armbar Submits Gomi
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner Nate Diaz annihilated former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Takanori Gomi, as he submitted the Japanese star with a first-round armbar in a featured lightweight matchup. Gomi (32-8, 1 NC, 1-3 UFC) tapped out 4:27 into round one, having been battered on the feet for much of their brief encounter.
Diaz (14-7, 8-6 UFC) blistered Gomi with straight lefts and right jabs, twice dropping him to his knees. Clearly outgunned on the feet, Gomi went into desperation mode. He secured a takedown from a body lock and immediately found himself trapped in Diaz’s spidery guard. The Cesar Gracie protégé locked in a triangle choke and then transitioned to an armbar for the finish. The victory snapped a two-fight losing streak for Diaz.
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