Originally written on hov-mma  |  Last updated 2/22/12

Another day, another fight breakdown for this weekend’s UFC 144 card airing live on PPV from the Land of the Rising Sun.  This preview will help break down the Light Heavyweight clash between Ryan Bader and “Rampage” Jackson.  Quinton spent a large part of his career fighting in Japan in the Pride organization and raised hell both in and out of the cage.  If you haven’t seen his work from back in Pride, please check out his fights with Wanderlei Silva, and his gravity defying slam/KO of Ricardo Arona.  
Ryan Bader was considered by many a blue chip can’t miss future star after his season winning stint on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter.  A wrestler out of Arizona State he has all the tools to compete at the highest levels in the sport.  He was a perfect 12-0 before consecutive losses to Jon Jones and Tito Ortiz had his back against the wall.  He rebounded impressively defeating Jason Brilz by KO in just over a minute at UFC 139.  This fight with Quinton Jackson could be the most important of his career as a loss here, and there’s really no overstating how damaging it would be to his career in the UFC.   


Quinton Jackson is one of the biggest stars in the sport.  He’s been the UFC Champion, just lost in a bid against Jon Jones to regain the title and basically has nothing left to prove at this point.  Quinton is 32-9 as a professional and has fought everyone who has ever been considered important in the Light Heavyweight division.  Rampage has won 7 of his 10 UFC fights and recently stated that had he defeated Jon Jones for the Light Heavyweight championship, he would have retired.  So with that said, you have to wonder what Quinton has left desire wise. 
This is a definite crossroads fight.  For Ryan Bader, it is a must win or he faces uncertainty.  For Rampage, a loss here could signal the end of desire to continue fighting.  He’s a great fighter and an awesome character but if he drops this contest, he might start to look at other options.
Standing
Ryan Bader is known predominantly as a wrestler and sometimes people are quick to categorize fighters and sleep on their other tools.  Ryan Bader does not necessarily have the smoothest stand up game, but he has heavy hands and has shown punching power in the past stopping fighters like Keith Jardine, Vinny Magalhães and Jason Brilz by KO or TKO.  His heavy hands notwithstanding, he’ll need good footwork and head movement against Rampage, and that can’t be developed overnight. 
Quinton Jackson also possesses heavy hands, but he brings more standup skill to the party.  He has good footwork, and stays behind his hands for the most part.  He isn’t the fastest fighter at this point in his career but if you make a mistake with him, he can put in deep water in a split second.  I like his kicks too when he chooses to utilize them.  In this fight however, Bader might want to look to take Jackson down often, so leg kicks are dangerous.  He can outbox Bader, and can do so convincingly.    
Rampage holds a discernible striking advantage over Ryan Bader.
Wrestling.
These guys are both wrestlers. It’s what got them into the dance in the first place.  Ryan Bader was the Pac-10 wrestling champion 3 times and was a two time division one all American, finishing fourth in the country in 2004 as a sophomore.   Quinton Jackson wrestled at the high school level and some junior college but does not have the decorated amateur wrestling career that Bader has.  He’s always been able to take fighters down, but his defense against the takedown at times has looked very average.  He was at one point feared for his slam as much as his hands, but those days were mostly in Pride some six or seven years ago.
Ryan Bader is a much better wrestler than Quinton Jackson.
Submissions.
This is perhaps the easiest section of breakdown as neither fighter will be confused with Demian Maia but Bader does possess what I believe are the more substantial submission skills.  Quinton Jackson hasn’t had a genuine submission victory since 2001 and while he trains submissions as part of his overall training, the odds of him pulling one off are very slim in this contest.  If there is a submission victory in this fight, Ryan Bader will have his hand raised.  
Don’t expect anyone to submit their opponent here, but that said, Bader has a slight advantage in this category. 
Bottom Line.
These two will come out and sling leather until Quinton lands something that hurts Bader and he finishes him, or until Bader gets stung and starts taking Jackson down all fight.  If Quinton can get off first and land shots, he’s going to be successful but if Bader can take Rampage down and control him from the top, it will be a slow painful night for Jackson.  One thing that stacks in Jackson’s favor is the whole Japan MMA scene.  He’s wildly popular in Japan and this opportunity could be just what Jackson needed.  He might press for a highlight reel finish and if so, it would be poetic for him to walk away from MMA and into the sunset in Japan. A fully passionate and motivated Rampage is a scary thought.  You’ll have to wait for the official www.hov-mma.com picks to find out who we think the winner will be. 


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