Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a bonafide superstar. Not only in the world of Mixed Martial Arts, but in movies, television, and of course video games. Everyone and your grandma is familiar with the name. Many of his career defining moments are etched into our minds. His slam to Ricardo Arona in PRIDE, his wars with Wanderlei Silva, and his brutal destruction of Chuck Liddell in the UFC are wonderful memories.
Jackson went on a hiatus shortly after filming the tenth season of the Ultimate Fighter, to pursue career interests outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Eventually, he was forced to come back to fulfill his contractual obligations with the promotion (he ended up signing a six fight extension). After nearly a year of hostility brewing between the two fighters, Quinton Jackson finally met “Sugar” Rashad Evans at UFC 114 in an event that didn’t live up to any of it’s hype. Jackson’s last minute preparation at his training camp was his downfall in that fight. It was clear, this wasn’t the same Rampage we watched in PRIDE, this wasn’t the same Rampage that became a fan favorite in the UFC. Rashad earned a title shot against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Jackson’s career went into limbo.
What was next for him? He didn’t seem motivated in his last bout, but he was given a chance to redeem himself against Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida at UFC 123. A committed Rampage beat the Dragon in a very close match. To get one step closer to the Light Heavyweight title picture, the UFC originally booked a very dangerous Thiago Silva to test Jackson at UFC 130. However, with Thiago possibly failing his drug test from UFC 125, the promotion had to find a replacement. There was a moment when it looked like Jackson would face his rival Rashad Evans in a rematch. However with Rashad suffering from injury and pulling out of his title match with Shogun, the UFC turned to Matt Hamill…..
Matt Hamill? With all due respect to him, he isn’t exactly a marquee name in the world of MMA. He is a very game opponent and is a threat for many Light Heavyweights, but when it came to the big fights he always came up short. Jonathan Snowden from BloodyElbow.com perfectly explained my point of view:
“Hamill is no world beater. Every time he’s stepped up in class, he’s been sent scurrying in defeat. He lost to Michael Bisping, a blown up middleweight, in England. He was overwhelmed by Rich Franklin, another undersized light heavyweight, in Atlanta in 2008. Although technically a win, he was so badly outgunned by Jon Jones that there was legitimate fear for his safety and well being.”
I’m not counting Matt Hamill out. He may not be as big of a name as Quinton Jackson, but he could prove to be a very good test for Rampage. We saw what Rashad did to Jackson using his wrestling. I believe Hamill could very well do the same thing. This match may not be what any of us wanted to see, but there actually is a lot at stake in this bout. Hamill has nothing to lose, but everything to gain. If Rampage losses what will become of him? Mentally is his heart and mind still in the fight? In order for Jackson to once again become a legitimate threat in the Light Heavyweight division, he needs to become the Rampage we grew up watching. He needs to show not only the public, but himself that he is still one of the most dangerous men to ever step into a ring or cage. It’s going to be interesting to hear the stories developing for both fighters going into UFC 130.