by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
The Wanderlei Silva and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
rivalry has played out twice, entertaining fans with two hard-fought wars with
Silva coming out the victor decisively both times. Saturday night UFC 92 hosts the third installment of one of
mixed martial arts’ greatest trilogies.
This time, both have different training camps. They’ll fight under the unified rules,
in an octagon rather than a ring under the UFC three, five minute round
system. Jackson hopes to avenge
the two previous losses and get back to a title bout while Wanderlei Silva wants to show
the more things change, the more they stay the same with his eye on the
identical goal; a shot at the UFC light heavyweight crown.
In their previous outings, Silva was able to defeat Quinton Rampage Jackson
utilizing his aggressive striking style, working kicks and flurries of punches,
ending both matches with knees from the muay Thai clinch. Jackson has good boxing skills and
throws punches with bad intentions.
Each have proven to possess one-punch knockout
power and the ability to change the course of a fight with a single blow. Silva is the better kickboxer while
Jackson rarely utilizes kicks and tends to like to throw bombs from the outside
or maul you on the inside. Silva
has the edge in the striking department with a more diverse arsenal of strikes
at his disposal.
Jackson has the better wrestling pedigree and was able to
take Silva down the two times they previously fought. Silva has the better submissions, but Jackson has built a reputation
on his ability to power out of submissions and his submission defense. He’s found himself in bad positions
with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts in the past and was able to work his way
out of Murilo Bustamante’s guillotine or slam his way out of Ricardo Arona’s
triangle. Submissions should not
be a factor in this fight, but wrestling is probably Jackson’s biggest
advantage against Silva.
Octagon control will most likely play a big role on Saturday
night. Wanderlei is aggressive and
likes to move forward and dictate the pace of the action. It’s opponents
that have been able to force him to move back or retreat that have been the
most success against "The Axe Murderer." Chuck Liddell was able to do it in his decision win over
Silva at UFC 79. Mirko "Cro
Cop" Filipovic was able to pull it off in his knockout victory over Silva
at the Pride open-weight Grand Prix in 2006.
Jackson also likes to move forward or stand his ground in
the pocket. The same thing goes
for Jackson as Wanderlei as far as getting them to move away or back-peddle as
a proven method to victory.
Wanderlei forced "Rampage" to move back in each of his wins
over the former UFC light heavyweight titleholder. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua implemented it with kicks and
Forrest Griffin was able to with leg kicks and jabs. Octagon control on the feet is important, but controlling
the fight in the clinch and on the ground could prove the most crucial.
Controlling the fight from the clinch is where Silva has
defeated Jackson soundly in their epic showdowns. He’s been able to capture Jackson in his muay Thai clinch
and end the fights from there.
Jackson was able to use the clinch to get Silva to the ground,
though. Effectiveness from the
clinch position will be a key factor if history tells us anything about the
At the end of the first round in their second meeting,
Jackson was brutalizing Silva with ground and pound. He was able to secure a number of takedowns. Jackson’s ability to keep an opponent
beneath him on the ground and control them while he lands punches to the body
and head could be tailor-made for the octagon.
Conditioning shouldn’t come into play for either of the
former champions. In his short
stint in the UFC, Jackson has gone five rounds with Dan Henderson and Forrest
Griffin. This is not a five round
bout. Wanderlei has been in long
wars and always comes fit to fight.
There’s a few things to ponder heading
into UFC 92. Jackon is coming off
a loss to Forrest Griffin and has never lost back-to-back fights in his nine year professional mixed martial arts career. He was arrested in July after a traffic
incident where he was charged with two felonies and a handful of
misdemeanors. He’s also left
trainer Juanito Ibarra and joined the Wolfslair Academy in London for
preparation for Silva. A change in
training camp and lingering legal issues could be a distraction or prove to add
While Jackson has the edge in wrestling on paper, Wanderlei
has spent the better part of the last two years training at Extreme Couture
with training partners who are accomplished wrestlers. He also has Forrest Griffin, who defeated
Jackson at UFC 86, as a training and sparring
partner. He’s also spent time with
UFC Interim heavyweight titleholder Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and UFC
middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
This time they’re fighting in a fence enclosed octagon and
not a square, roped ring.
Stylistically this could benefit both of them. Jackson’s wrestling and takedowns could be
aided by the cage. The
shape of the octagon could help Silva be more elusive and not get boxed into a
corner with nowhere to go. The
same goes for Jackson who’s found himself trapped against the turnbuckle
against Silva before when they fought in Pride.
Jackson has to come in with a different game plan than he’s
used against Silva in the past. He
needs to take advantage of the fence, using it to press Silva against and
eliminate space while in the clinch so Silva can’t throw his patented
knees. He has to avoid Silva’s
muay Thai clinch. As much as he
likes to stand and trade, working takedowns and being able to use elbows will
benefit Jackson. He needs to set
up his takedowns off Silva’s commitment to strike, getting the fight to the
ground where’s he’s proven that he can inflict damage. Jackson has knocked Silva down with
punches before, and he’s not over-matched in the striking department, but
playing that game with Wanderlei Silva is like playing Russian Roulette with a
six shooter loaded with three bullets.
Silva’s gameplan will most likely be avoid
being taken down, win the striking exchanges, be aggressive, set the pace and
out work Jackson. He has to avoid
being pressed against the cage with Jackson’s strength and weight being imposed
on him. He needs space to be most effective. Using footwork and moving laterally and
circling will help create that space against Jackson who tends to move straight
forward or stand in front of his opponents. Flurrying on Jackson has been extremely effective in the
past. Jackson has a tendency to
cover up and not fire back when being attacked with combinations. Silva needs to beat him to the punch,
pick his times to engage and unload a series of strikes when he does.