UFC 130: Rampage Jackson's Career Highs And Lows

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson fights Matt Hamill tonight at UFC 130. With a win, he could emerge as the division's number one contender and earn a title shot against 205-pound champion Jon Jones later this year. Let's look at Jackson's most memorable moments -- good and bad -- that got him in this position.

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Rampage Jackson's Worst Fights, A Top Five List

Quinton Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva 1
Pride: "Final Conflict 2003"
Nov. 9, 2003
Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan

Jackson rolled into the finals of the Pride 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix after upsetting the UFC's representative Chuck Liddell in the Semifinal round. Silva had just beaten Japanese Judo Olympian Hidehiko Yoshida in an epic bout. The scene was set for one of the greatest MMA fights of all time. Unfortunately for Rampage, it was also one of the most brutal beatings he would ever receive. Not that Quinton didn't get his licks in. He took Silva down early and administered a beating of his own -- but due to a referee stand up that remains controversial to this day, Silva was able to turn the tides and finished Jackson with an absolutely brutal series of about 20 standing knees to the head.

Quinton Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva 2
Pride 28: "High Octane"
Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan
October 31, 2004

After reeling off a couple of wins, including his famous power bombing of Ricardo Arona, Jackson found himself back in the ring with Wanderlei Silva. This time Silva's Pride Middleweight (205lbs) Championship was on the line. Jackson started the fight off on the right foot by doing well in the early exchanges getting a take down and even dropping Silva with a right hand. Rampage ended the round in side control raining down knees and punches to Silva's head. Unfortunately for Jackson, the round ended before he could finish the champ. In the second round Jackson managed to take Silva down again, but couldn't do much from top position. When Wanderlei got up he hurt Rampage with a right hook that Quinton. From there Silva followed up with a series of brutal standing knees to the face that left Jackson unconscious and falling through the ring ropes, creating an iconic MMA image that is synonymous with utter defeat.

Quinton Jackson vs Mauricio Rua
Pride: "Total Elimination 2005"
Osaka Dome,Osaka, Japan
April 23, 2005

Rampage bounced back from his devastating second loss to Wanderlei by edging out Murilo Rua via split decision. That bought him a ticket into Pride's 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix. Unfortunately Ninja's brother Shogun was his first opponent. Unlike Jackson's first two bouts against Rua's Chute Boxe teammate Silva, Rampage just didn't look like himself in there against Shogun. There's no referee restart to blame for this loss. No, a listless and seemingly intimidated Jackson just plain took a beating from Shogun. The performance would be the first of an amazing run for Shogun that propelled him to the top of the rankings. For Rampage it was the end of his hopes of claiming the Pride title. In a little over a year he'd be out of the organization for good and on his way to the UFC.

Quinton Jackson vs Forrest Griffin
UFC 86: "Jackson vs Griffin"
Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
July 5, 2008

Jackson won six straight fights after the Shogun loss, winning and defending the UFC light heavyweight title along the way. Under the tutelage of boxing trainer Juanito Ibarra, Rampage had perfected his boxing game but he also developed a habit of putting his weight on his front foot -- giving him more punching power but also making him more vulnerable to leg kicks. Griffin took advantage and worked Jackson's legs with savage Muay Thai kicks. Rampage answered with brutal uppercuts but never managed to put Griffin out. Many felt Jackson still did enough to keep his title, but not the judges, who scored it for Griffin. In the aftermath of losing his title, Rampage went on a rampage. He fired Ibarra. Next he stayed up for several days without eating or sleeping, playing video games and slugging energy drinks. Then he made the bad decision to get behind the wheel of his monster truck. The ensuing hit and run and high speed chase landed Quinton in considerable legal and personal trouble.

Quinton Jackson vs Rashad Evans
UFC 114: "Rampage vs Evans"
MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
May 29, 2010

Fortunately Rampage was able to turn things around fairly quickly after that fiasco and picked up two UFC wins before igniting one of the biggest feuds in MMA history. After Jackson beat then-champ Rashad Evans' teammate Keith Jardine, the two engaged in an epic in-cage face off and fans looked forward to Jackson's immediate title shot. Unfortunately fans had to wait when Jackson couldn't recover from the Jardine fight in time and his title shot went to Lyoto Machida. Machida destroyed Evans to take the title, but Jackson chose to settle his beef with Evans rather than fight for the title. The UFC ran with the feud and booked Evans and Jackson to coach what became the most seen season of The Ultimate Fighter ever. After a massive buildup, Jackson had to post-pone his match with Evans due to his starring role in The A-Team movie. When they finally did get the two into the cage at UFC 114, the smack talk was truly epic. Over a million fans ordered the PPV to see the two slug it out. No one was more disappointed than Jackson when Evans turned the fight into an exhibition of brilliant gameplanning instead of the hoped-for slugfest. Rashad caught Rampage early with a huge punch to the face and followed up with the first of many take downs. Jackson managed to hurt Evans in the final round but couldn't get the finish and it wasn't enough to stop Rashad from getting the nod from the judges.


Rampage Jackson's Best Fights, A Top Five List

Quinton Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell 1
Pride: "Final Conflict 2003"
Nov. 9, 2003
Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan

At this moment in time, Pride FC -- not Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- was the leading mixed martial arts promotion. A reality that infuriated the always-passionate UFC President Dana White. White was so determined to prove that the UFC was better than Pride that he sent his best fighter, Chuck Liddell, to compete in a grueling 205-pound tournament. He also made a $250,000 side bet with his Pride counterpart, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, that "Iceman" would defeat Pride's poster boy, Wanderlei Silva, in the tournament final. The gauntlet was laid down. The table was set. But then someone went and invited Rampage Jackson, who spoiled the entire party. Liddell and Jackson met in the semifinals. The winner would go onto meet "The Axe Murderer" in the final grand prix match. Well, Liddell apparently "didn't follow the gameplan," while Jackson beat him from pillar to post for nearly 10 minutes. The beating was so bad that Liddell's corner threw in the towel to end the violence in the second round. White would have to wait four long years before he could get Liddell and Silva locked inside a cage together. Jackson would go onto lose to Silva via brutal knockout later that same night.

Quinton Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona
Pride: "Critical Countdown 2004"
June 20, 2004
Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan

Still reeling from the brutal (and embarrassing) loss to Wanderlei Silva, Jackson was out for blood. A comeback win over Hirotaka Yokoi wasn't good enough. He needed more. So when he was booked to battle another Brazilian, Ricardo Arona, his road to redemption had officially been set in motion. Arona was undefeated in Pride FC competition and the only loss on an otherwise perfect record was to none other than Fedor Emelianenko. Jackson got in trouble midway through the first round, getting trapped in the guard of the dangerous submission specialist. Arona appeared to actually have the fight won, locking in a tight triangle choke. But Jackson would not be denied. In a tremendous show of strength and power, he scooped up Arona -- who was still latched around his throat -- and slammed him violently to the canvas. It was so forceful that Arona was knocked out on contact. It was a career-defining moment for Jackson. One that is still featured on highlight reel after highlight reel to this day. This "power bomb" stands the test of time.

Quinton Jackson vs. Chuck Liddell 2
UFC 71: "Liddell vs. Jackson"
May 26, 2007

MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada
Dana White admitted that Zuffa purchased World Fighting Alliance (WFA) for one reason and one reason only: Quinton Jackson. He knew that a rematch with Chuck Liddell would not only be a pivotal divisional showdown, but would likely also do big business. After a tune up win over Marvin Eastman, Jackson was booked to rematch the seemingly invincible light heavyweight champion three months later. He proved that his first win was no fluke, making quick work of Liddell with a first round technical knockout finish. He was crowned champion, ending Liddell's reign of terror and marking the beginning of the end for the UFC Hall of Fame fighter, who would go onto lose four of his next five fights before retiring.

Quinton Jackson vs. Dan Henderson
UFC 75: "Champion vs. Champion"
Sept. 8, 2007
O2 Arena in London, England

Never before had there been a true "undisputed" champion between rival UFC and Pride FC promotions. That would all change when Zuffa purchased the Japanese outfit and set up an instant unification bout between Jackson and the last man to hold the Pride 205-pound title, Dan Henderson. It was a tough, back-and-forth five-round fight that Jackson would ultimately end up winning. Jackson demonstrated vast improvements in his overall game, slinging leather with the heavy-handed puncher and scrambling right along with the Olympic-level wrestler. He proved, too, that he had the endurance to go a full 25 minutes without any major issues. Rampage Jackson, the raw, tough kid from Memphis, Tenn., had evolved into a true mixed martial artist.

Quinton Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva 3
UFC 92: "The Ultimate 2008"
Dec. 27, 2008
MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

Silva had viciously thrashed Jackson in two previous fights, sending him crashing through the ropes in an unconscious heap with killer Muay Thai knees. There was really no need for a third match because the two previous ended so brilliantly ... and violently. But Jackson argued that things would be different. He had real training partners this time. And the "corrupt" Japanese referees weren't conspiring against him to give Silva the edge. It took just one thundering left hook to prove his point. He hit the Brazilian so hard that he was out cold before he hit the canvas. Just how revenge is meant to be served.


UFC 130: Rampage Jackson's Career Highs And Lows

Quinton Jackson will return to action later this evening, taking on Matt Hamill in the UFC 130 main event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Rampage's" professional mixed martial arts journey dates back to 1999, spanning numerous promotions and crossing several continents. At 33 years old, and with 40 fights (after tonight) under his belt, the Memphis, Tenn., native has admittedly entered the homestretch of a sparkling career.

UFC 130 Results & Live Play-By-Play

Jackson, the only man to unify a UFC and Pride FC division title, has had his ups and his downs throughout this time. He's dished out beatdowns, as well as received his fair share of punishment. 

Despite his rocky road, Jackson has always remained near (or at) the top of perhaps the most competitive division (205 pounds) in the entire sport. And he's done so with guts, flare and intrigue every step of the way.

Today, we travel back in time to look at Jackson's best and worst career-defining moments to date as he stands poised to make another run at a world championship ... perhaps his last.

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