UFC 135 was held on Sept 24, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. The main event featured a light heavyweight championship bout between champion, Jon “Bones” Jones and challenger, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
This would be Jones first defense of the title since defeating “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128, on March 19, 2011. His rise to the top had been very exciting, but many were wondering if his rise had been too easy. Now that he was the official belt holder it seems the true tests were about to begin. First on tap, was former light heavyweight champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
Rampage had won his last 4 out 5 fights, only losing to Rashad Evans by decision. He had not been the light heavyweight champ since losing the belt to Forrest Griffin back in 2008. He had serious knockout power in both hands, and was extremely hungry to wear UFC gold once more. He felt that he was more experienced than Jones, and that experience would give him the edge in the fight. Rampage had also never been knocked out or submitted in the Octagon, and he felt that Jones did not have the power or the skills to be the one to finish him. Many fight fans felt that this was Jones true test, and that Rampage would be the one to take him out.
Round 1: Jones comes out crouched down in the 3 point stance as Rampage circles. He darts for Rampage’s legs and attempts a takedown, Rampage defends. Jones backs Rampage into the cage and controls him there while throwing several knees at Rampage’s legs. Jones lands a solid elbow and continues to control Rampage against the cage. Jones throws knees and holds Rampage for several minutes.
They finally separate and square off. Jones keeps Rampage at a distance with several front kicks to the body and face. Rampage only attempts a few punches that are way off the mark. In the final minute, Jones puts Rampage back into the cage and throws a spinning back elbow that lands on the top of Rampage’s head. Jones stays at distance again, throwing solid leg kicks, and side kicks to Rampage’s knees. Rampage closes the distance during the final seconds and throws 3 or 4 haymakers that all just barely miss Jones.
Round 2: Rampage comes out with more urgency immediately, but is still kept at distance by Jones kicks. The fight stays in the middle of the Octagon for the first couple of minutes, and Rampage is unable to mount any type of offense due to Jon Jones variety of kicks. Jones is throwing leg kicks, body kicks, head kicks, and side kicks to the thighs of Rampage, which seem to be very effective in keeping him at distance.
Rampage is barely getting off any shots as Jones continues to pick him apart from the outside. Jones gets so comfortable at one point, he throws a jumping, spinning back kick that lands to Rampage’s body. Jones unpredictability is always a factor in every fight. In the last 10 seconds of the round, Jones goes from controlling Rampage in the clinch, to flopping onto his back to attempt a triangle, against the worst fighter to try a triangle on.
He actually does get into the triangle position, but there’s only mere seconds left and the round ends.
Round 3: They meet in the center again, and Jones continues where he left off with the leg kicks. After a few seconds of feeling each other out, Rampage starts changing up his attack by throwing leg kicks. He lands 2 or 3 back to back. The leg kicks are the only success Rampage has had in the fight thus far. Jones starts throwing side kicks again and Rampage doesn’t respond with anything. About a minute and a half in, Jones takes Rampage down for the first time in the fight, and goes right into side control. After attempting a few elbows, Jones quickly gets into full mount position. Jones lands a couple of punches and throws one or two elbows, but they are not very damaging shots. Rampage does a good job of controlling Jones wrists from the bottom, and Rampage is able to hip escape and get back to his feet seconds later.
The right side of Rampage’s face is cut from one the elbows thrown. Jones starts throwing kicks again, and on his second kick attempt lands a front kick directly to Rampage’s face, Anderson Silva style. Jones continues to attack from a distance, consistently landing the side kick to the thighs and knees of Rampage. Jones lands a few punches as well, but nothing solid or damaging. Jones decides during the last minute to play a very dangerous game. He drops his hands in front of Rampage and showboats. Not the smartest strategy against Rampage Jackson, but Jones seems to be very comfortable at this point. Rampage doesn’t attempt any punches at this time. The final 5 seconds Jones drops down like he’s going for a takedown, and when the buzzer rings he hoists Rampage’s body up in the air as if to say “you got nothing for me”. It was an obvious dis to Rampage, but so far in the fight, it seemed to be true. Rampage looked like he had nothing for Jones.
Round 4: They come out briefly standing, Jones attempts kicks once again. Seconds later they clinch, Jones seeming to have the advantage. Jones holds on for several seconds in the upper position of the clinch. Jones then pushes Rampage back toward the cage, and drops down for a takedown. He gets Rampage’s back against the cage and grabs onto his neck. It almost looks like Jones is trying for a guillotine, but seconds later he lets go of his neck and postures up slightly. He pushes Rampage’s head back with his forearm, then starts throwing elbows at his face. Jones lands a solid knee to the body, which makes Rampage cover up slightly, and turn away.
Rampage gives up his back and Jones pounces right on him, putting his left leg around Rampage’s stomach. After getting one hook in, Jones seems effortlessly able to get his left arm around Rampage’s neck in the choke position. Jones quickly uses his right arm to lock in the rear-naked choke, and Rampage tries to defend it, but Jones flips Rampage on his side, still fully in the choke. Jones has it locked in tight and Rampage tries to pry it off. He is unable to, and Rampage is forced to tapout. Referee Josh Rosenthal separates the two, and Jon Jones wins the bout in the 4th round via rear-naked choke. Jones retains the light heavyweight title, and becomes the first fighter to finish Quinton Jackson by submission.