Click below for the UFC 135 main event report....
DENVER, September 24 – Another test down for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. The youngest titleholder in UFC history not only proved that he could absorb some thunder from Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the UFC 135 main event at Pepsi Center Saturday night, but that he could fight into the championship rounds and still emerge victorious, as he submitted the former 205-pound belt holder in the fourth round.
“The gameplan was to prove that we could strike with Quinton Jackson,” said the 24-year old Jones, who retained the belt he won from Mauricio Rua in March for the first time. “He insulted my striking, so I worked with Mike Winkeljohn, and we cleaned up my striking to prove a point.”
“I’m in the best shape of my life,” said Jackson. “I thought he was all hype, but the kid is good. My hat is off to him. I did my best. This is the best Rampage ever, and he had me memorized.”
Jones came out for the fight in a bizarre crouch that baffled the crowd but didn’t deter Jackson from the task at hand, as he avoided Jones’ first takedown attempt. Jones was able to grab hold of Jackson though, and the two locked up against the fence, a sequence highlighted by knees and a hard left elbow by the champion. Finally, after a stalemate, the two broke, with Jackson looking to set up some of his bombs as Jones pecked away with kicks from long range. At the three minute mark, Jackson shot off his first bad-intentioned hooks, but Jones got out of the way before they landed. After some more long distance strikes, Jones bulled Jackson into the fence again, almost catching him with a spinning back elbow. After breaking, Jones missed a wild kick, and Jackson was just as wild in missing some haymakers before the bell.
Jackson shot out of his corner to start round two, catching a kick and just coming short of landing a flush right hand. Jones locked up with the challenger again, but a takedown attempt came up empty. With the crowd chanting “Rampage, Rampage,” Jackson continued to stalk, but Jones’ strikes continued to find their mark. They just weren’t flowing in combination, which gave Jackson ample time to recover and reset. And as flashy as Jones got, Jackson looked unimpressed, as his defense was solid enough to shrug off whatever came his way. Jones was the busier of the two though, enabling him to take another round.
Jones’ takedowns continued to come up empty early in round three, but eventually, nearly 90 seconds in, he softened up Jackson with leg kicks and got him to the mat. Jones quickly transitioned into the full mount position, but just when it looked like Jones was about to finish, Jackson, now bleeding from a cut over the right eye, found his way back to his feet, and the crowd erupted. Jones landed two hooks when the action resumed, and a kick to the knee brought a disdainful look from Jackson, who nearly chased Jones across the Octagon to throw looping haymakers that came up far short. As the round closed, Jones shot for another takedown, but couldn’t get it.
Visiting the championship rounds for the first time, Jones came out fast and was met by Jackson, who got taken down against the fence. Jones looked for a rear naked choke after landing a few strikes, and within seconds he sunk it in. Jackson did his best to hang on, but there was no escape, and he was forced to tap out at 1:14 of the round.
With the win, Jones improves to 14-1; Jackson falls to 32-9. Next up for Jones is a bout with former training partner Rashad Evans.
“I thought it was a good fight,” said Evans when brought into the Octagon after the bout. “Jon Jones looked impressive. This (the title fight) is a good opportunity. I’m glad the UFC put it together.”
“I’m not gonna say much leading up to this fight, I’m just gonna prove it,” said Jones. “He (Evans) has ruined my special night twice in a row now.”