by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It seems that not only will 2006 be known as “The Year of the Upset,” but it could also be labeled as “The Year of the Comeback.”
With returns by MMA legends such as Bas Rutten and Pat Miletich, plus the UFC’s decision to bring back past warriors such as Keith Hackney and Mikey Burnett for The Ultimate Fighter 4, there has been a resurgence of veterans making their way back into the fray.
Among them is Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson. While not a familiar name to many of the newer fans of the sport who just started watching in the past year or so, Jackson helped bridge the gap between the original SEG-era Ultimate Fighting Championship and the modern Zuffa regime.
After spending the start of his career in Superbrawl, IFC, and Bas Rutten Invitational events, Jackson made his UFC debut at UFC 21 with a dramatic knockout victory over Royce Alger. From 1999 to 2002, Jackson was one of the most familiar faces in the UFC.
When the Fertittas purchased the organization, he was among the core of fighters that Zuffa retained from SEG. While primarily a striker, Eugene was one of the fighters who helped take MMA from singular disciplines to cross-training in various styles, mirroring the evolution of the promotion itself from what it was, to what it has become today.
After a knockout loss to Mark Weir at UFC 38 in July 2002, Jackson left the UFC and didn’t fight again until July 2003, at which point he lost to Tony Fryklund on a smaller show in Illinois.
Eugene would spend the next two years out of fighting before rumors began to circulate that he would be making a comeback in 2006. Sure enough, at the Strikeforce event this past Match, The Wolf once again prowled the MMA cage.
Going up against the much younger Jorge Ortiz, Jackson looked as if he had not missed a beat. Still in the tremendous shape that he had always maintained throughout his career, Eugene showcased just how complete of a fighter he was and still is, imposing his will on the ground and standing.
When all was said and done, it was Jackson who took a unanimous decision victory in March. Now, three months later, he looks to remain on the comeback trail at Strikeforce “Revenge” this weekend in San Jose against veteran Muay Thai specialist Mike Seal.
There’s no reason this fight should go to the ground. Both Eugene and Mike love to stand and trade strikes, and both are aggressive fighters who are more than willing to take two shots to give one. In what could be a real treat for the fans in attendance, this fight could easily produce a KO result.
Should the fight go to the ground, things could get very interesting. Having fought the likes of Jeremy Horn and Ricardo Almeida, and having trained with Frank Shamrock, Eugene is no stranger to having to defend himself on the ground, and he may have a slight edge over Seal on the ground.
Regardless of the result of the fight, Jackson could once again prove with a good performance that while the old guard’s time may be coming to an end, it’s still viable and dangerous in the modern MMA world.
And that, seemingly, has always been the mark of Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson. Like his namesake, the wolf, Jackson may not have always been the biggest, strongest, or best, but he was always there, always tenacious, and always capable of something spectacular, no matter what the circumstances may have been.