Sunday, July 6, 2008

Griffin Halts Jackson's Rampage

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In a fight that's been brewing since Spike's successful TUF series, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and crowd-pleaser, perennial underdog (for how long this time?) Forrest Griffin lived up to the hype a little bit more than the UFC champion.

But oddly, the roles were slightly reversed.

Jackson, the undisputed and favorite going into this fight, faced off against a man who stopped the man who had previously cracked Rampages ribs in a huge upset (see Mauricio "Shogun" Rua). Griiffin, who has proven that he is more than a hard head, with heavy hands and a Holyfield-esque heart, now has to be taken seriously as one of the better pound-for-pound MMA fighters today. The fight was a hard one to pick, because we didn't know who would take the initiative.

It was Griffin who came out kicking and punching, but with technique and not reckless abandon. And those kicks would keep Jackson at bay for most of the night. Every time Jackson got close and hit Griffin, at least in the early rounds, he hurt him. But once his left leg began to feel the effects of those kicks, it nearly cost him the fight right then and there.

Late in the first, Jackson almost stopped Griffin with a huge right uppercut. But unlike Chuck Liddell, the former UFC light heavyweight champion whom Jacksoon won the belt on a 1st-round stoppage, Jackson could not take full advantage of it and lost his chance.

In the second and third round, Jackson's left leg was seriously buckling from the sting of Griffin's leg kicks. And the fact that Jackson survived the much taller and bigger mount and pound position of Griffin speaks volumes of his physical toughness. It is usually Griffin who takes the elbows and forearms too the face, only to smile through the blood and come through victorious.

And the fact that Jackson also never stopped coming forward (albeit very cautiously) in the 4th and 5th round, even after he looked as if he could not take anymore of Griffin's long, whipping side kicks, also serves notice that he is not the same fighter who was stopped in PRIDE by Rua and, yup, Wanderlei Silva.

Speaking of which, there are now a bevy of fights that can and should be made in the light-heavyweight rich division. How about:

Jackson vs Silva 3? (Silva is 2-0 with a brutal KO)

Jackson vs Griffin 2? (Did Jackson take him too lightly? Why??)

Griffin vs. Lyoto Machida (The biggest threat at 205 lbs.)

Griffin vs. Thiago Silva (The 2nd biggest threat at 205 lbs.; and he's undefeated with some solid wins)

Griffin vs. Silva (They have sparred and Silva most recently destroyed Keith Jardine, the last man to stop Griffin)

Bottom Line: There are many good fights to be made. And people really need to realize that Griffin is one of the bigger, stronger fighters whose technique keeps getting better.

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