by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Only time will tell whether or not the WFA will eventually bite into some of the huge market share that the UFC has in the American MMA market. A main event that features the last man to defeat Chuck Liddell going up against a man who is possibly the best 185-pound fighter in the world could just be the ticket that the newly reformed organization is seeking.
Jackson was one of the most sought free agents in recent MMA history. Lindland is still widely considered to be one of the very best middleweights in the world, and he has proven that he will fight anyone at any time by abandoning his natural weight class and moving up to 205 pounds in order to find new competition.
The Pride ring has featured many American fighters over the years, but none have been enigmatic and electric than Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Rampage was one of the most outspoken and controversial stars that Pride ever helped to promote. The only thing that you knew for sure going into one of his fights was that win, lose, or draw, Jackson knew how to put on a show. His powerful slams and thunderous knockouts gave him quite a reputation while he was fighting in Japan.
The most memorable moment of Jackson’s career, or at least the one that everyone loves to talk about, was his TKO victory over Chuck Liddell in late 2003. In that fight, which was part of Pride’s 2003 Grand Prix, Jackson did something that most fighters could never do: He stood up and traded strikes with Liddell.
Not only did Jackson survive, but his unorthodox punches and maneuvers simply confused the man who is now the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Jackson dominated the fight from start to finish and picked up the TKO win.
In the next round of the Grand Prix, which was the finals, Jackson lost by TKO to Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva, who would go on to brutally knock out Jackson when they fought for a second time in October 2004.
After a controversial decision victory in February 2005 against Silva’s teammate, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Jackson met up with another one of Silva’s teammates, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, in the first round of Pride’s 2005 Grand Prix in April 2005. Shogun won the fight by TKO and would go on to win the entire tournament and become the Fighter of the Year in 2005.
Very few fighters in the world can say that they have even stepped into the ring with such talent, but somehow people started to question whether Rampage still had what it took or whether he had lost a step, even though he lost to two fighters who are arguably the top two fighters in the world at 205 pounds.
Now Rampage has stepped out of the shadows of one of the deepest weight classes in any MMA promotion, Pride’s 205-pound division, to be the main event star in the WFA. Jackson will be fighting on U.S. soil for the first time since 2002, when he competed in King of the Cage.
Jackson’s opponent, Matt “The Law” Lindland, is a busy man at all times. Not only is he constantly looking for fights to stay active, and not only does he win pretty much all of them along the way, but he is also one of the founding members of Team Quest, which just happens to be one of the top teams in all of MMA. Lindland is also a co-founder and executive for the Oregon-based SportFight promotion, which he created alongside former teammate and MMA legend Randy Couture.
For all of his endeavors in training and promoting, Lindland is still a fighter at heart. While he has said time and time again that he is the best 185-pound fighter in the world, he is also providing for his family with this profession, and that means more than any title or championship possibly could.
As a result, Lindland has moved up to light heavyweight, where he is starting to find a new home in the sport. In his first fight at 205 pounds, Lindland defeated former UFC fighter Mike Van Arsdale with a guillotine choke in April of this year. Now Lindland will get a huge challenge when he takes on a top ten-level light heavyweight fighter for the first time in his career.
Jackson and Lindland each have a certain style that seems to unleash itself in almost every fight, and that could be the determining factor in who wins this fight. Which fighter will be able to impose his will on the other?
Lindland is, once again, not getting as much respect as he deserves, simply because he’s moving up in weight to take on such a dangerous opponent. Don’t forget that even with the size disadvantage, Lindland is still an Olympic Silver Medalist in wrestling, and he always has his wrestling skills to fall back on if all else fails.
Jackson is no slouch when it comes to his wrestling skills, but comparing Jackson to Lindland in this category is like comparing apples with oranges. Hopefully, for Jackson’s sake, he has been studying his takedown defense and will avoid the ground fight with Lindland.
As good as Lindland is when it comes to his wrestling skills, the same can be said for Jackson’s stand-up game and knockout ability. He’s definitely not the most polished fighter in the stand-up position, but his punching power simply cannot be denied.
He has a devastating overhand right, and while he has fallen prey to the Chute Boxe teammates, he still has an incredible chin. Even in his losses to Silva and Shogun, he has shown that he can take a world of punishment and never seems to give in. Rampage should also have an overall strength advantage in this fight, which could help him to offset Lindland’s wrestling if the fight starts to go that way.
This is an extremely hard fight to predict, simply because both fighters have a list of intangibles that could play into this bout and decide its outcome.
Now that Rampage has a full-time team that is training with him again (including Tito Ortiz, who is well known for his intense training camps) and is back at 100 percent both mentally and physically, will he show the U.S. fans what some say he lost towards the end of his Pride career? And what about Matt Lindland, who just can’t seem to get the respect that he deserves, no matter what weight class he competes in? While he’s not the flashiest fighter out there, he almost always gets the job done.
If Lindland is able to get takedowns and control the pace of this fight, he could win the fight and surprise a lot of people. If Rampage is able to overpower Lindland, or keep the fight standing for much of the opening round, look for Rampage to impress with a hard-fought knockout.
My Prediction: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson wins by KO in Round 1