The MMA fight between Jon Jones and Rampage Jackson on Sept. 20, 2008, was one of the most momentous fights in UFC history. Not only did it set off a series of dramatic changes in the world of MMA, it also changed the careers of both fighters- Jon Jones and Rampage Jackson.
In this article, we will explore how this fight shaped the destinies of these two fighters and was ultimately responsible for creating two of the biggest sensations in the world of MMA.
Background of Jon Jones And Rampage Jackson
Jon Jones and Quinton (Rampage) Jackson have been fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) since 2008. Jones is an American mixed martial artist, who won his first championship in 2011. He has defended it a total of eight times, which is one of the most title defences in UFC history. On the other hand, Rampage is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion whose impressive reign spanned an impressive five years between 2007-2012. He has also had success in Bellator MMA and other promotions over his twenty year career as a professional fighter. Prior to their fight at UFC 135 on September 24th 2011, both fighters had competing legacies from previous fights. Jon Jones was on an impressive nine-fight winning streak which included notable wins over Maurício Shogun Rua and Ryan Bader, and Rampage was coming off a win over Big Nog back in May 2011. All eyes were on this fight as it would define their legacies for years to come—and for that reason alone there was intense pre-fight scrutiny and media attention surrounding the matchup.
Overview of The Fight
On May 29, 2011, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fans around the world watched as two of the most popular fighters in the UFC – Jon Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson – faced each other in a highly anticipated Light Heavyweight Championship fight. In what turned out to be a close and intense match, Jon Jones emerged victorious after five rounds of action. The fight not only marked an important moment in MMA history but also had a major impact on both fighters’ careers. For Jon Jones, it served as a launching pad for his rise to superstardom and eventual title reign; for Rampage Jackson, it signified a decline in his career culminating in his retirement from professional fighting three years later.
The fight between these two MMA icons was marked by several noteworthy moments which will be discussed at length below. An overview of the fight reveals two very different legacies that ensued from this turbulent night: one where Jonathan Jones retained his championship belt and pushed further ahead on the road to becoming one of the greatest MMA fighters ever; while Quinton Jackson saw his fall slowly deteriorating into irrelevance.
In 2011, Jon Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson stepped into the octagon for an epic battle of skill and technique. It was an important fight for both men as it would shape their career paths forever. It was a close fight that would end up being a turning point for both men, and today, we’re going to look at how this battle drastically changed their careers.
Preparations For The Fight
Before the fight, Jon Jones fought two back-to-back fights with Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko. Jones won both fights, finishing Vera via TKO in the first round and submitting Matyushenko in the second. After these victories, Jones earned a title shot against then lightweight champion Mauricio Rua.
Rampage Jackson was coming off a split-decision win at UFC 130 against Matt Hamill before he set his sights on returning to light heavyweight to face Jones for the title. Before these fights, Jackson spent time training with Josh Thomson — who fought Jones earlier that year and suffered an injury-forced defeat — as well as Greg Jackson and head coach Mike Winkeljohn of Jackson’s MMA Academy. In July 2011, just one month prior to their bout at UFC 135, both fighters were cleared of any doping violations under the UFC Anti-Doping Program’s protocol. The results of their pre-fight drug tests were made public before the event that same month, allowing fans to feel confident that neither man was engaged in cheating activities ahead of the fight. On August 7th 2011 Jon Jones and Rampage Jackson faced off in Denver Colorado to determine who would become the new light heavyweight champion of the world.
Highlights of The Fight
The fight between UFC champions Jon Jones and Rampage Jackson turned out to be the most significant of their careers. It was the first time that two light heavyweight champions had met in a title bout. The fight, which took place on September 24th, 2011, was part of a night of seven title fights at the UCF Arena in Orlando, Florida. The fight began as expected with Jones using his superior reach and technique to control the action from the outset while Rampage maintained his guard and kept throwing combinations looking for an opening. As seconds passed by it looked like Jones had broken open a cut on Jackson’s forehead with one of his strikes. This allowed Jones to throw more powerful combinations with increasing frequency as the round progressed, leading to an early stoppage in favor of Jones by referee Herb Dean at 3 minutes, 5 seconds into the opening round.
The fight went on to become one of both fighters’ best performances to date and earned them considerable praise from fans, media and fellow fighters alike. It cemented Jon’s status in history books as the youngest champion ever (at 23 years old) and earned him UFC 116 Fight of The Night Honors ($25K). For Rampage, although being unable to reclaim his former title belt he was still able to score a Fight Of The Night performance ($25K) for putting up such a great show against Jon Jones. Ultimately it was no doubt an important night for both fighters that saw them reach new heights in their respective careers.
Outcome of The Fight
At UFC 135, on September 24th, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver Colorado, “Rampage” Jackson and Jon Jones engaged in a light heavyweight battle that resulted in an undisputed win for Jon Jones. Jones was receiving praise from fans and analysts alike throughout the fight as he managed to outsmart Jackson with his high level striking and complex footwork. In the third round of the fight, Jones achieved a victory by submission with a standing guillotine choke, cementing his legacy in UFC history. The outcome of the bout was monumental for both fighters as it allowed Jones to become the undisputed king of the light heavyweight division while it gave Jackson one last chance to prove himself within the ring. With this win, Jon Jones earned himself multiple medals awards such as Knockout of The Night and Fight Of The Year – given to him by Sherdog – along with an increase in fame and glory among MMA fans world-wide after getting taken seriously as one of its greatest fighters. On the other hand, Rampage Jackson had to accept his defeat but used this sorrowful loss to make some drastic changes in his career outside of MMA such as taking on more acting roles which included him being casted for movies like ‘xXx: Return Of Xander Cage’. Overall, from this match not only did some great fighters’ respective careers change forever but also history has been rewritten for better or for worse in MMA due to short domino effect that both victories and defeats can have.
Impact on Careers
The Jon Jones vs Rampage Jackson fight in December of 2008, at UFC 87, had a lasting impact on the careers of both fighters. While some of the changes were positive, others were not. In this article, we will discuss how this fight changed the careers of both Jon Jones and Rampage Jackson.
Impact on Jon Jones
When Jon Jones and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson stepped into the cage on September 16th of 2011, their fight had far-reaching implications for both men. The bout marked a turning point in the careers of both fighters, and its repercussions are still felt today.
While Rampage jumped to the front of his career as an intimidating knockout specialist, Jon Jones used the victory to establish himself as one of the most talented light heavyweight champions in UFC history with a skill set unmatched by any fighter before him. Going on to defend his title 11 times with wins over some of the most formidable opponents out there including Rampage in 2018, it can be argued that he is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. His meteoric rise solidified him as an elite athlete while garnering a massive amount of respect from fans and other competitors alike. For Rampage, this fight marked one step closer to retirement. Plagued with legal troubles since 2011, Jackson’s career has been on a steady decline since his loss to Jon Jones. Following that loss he took a break from fighting only returning in 2018 for one final match-up against Jon Jones where he was unfortunately defeated once more showing that some things just cannot be changed. At its core, this fight between two highly skilled athletes was about ambition and passion; two men fighting their way up the ranks regardless of their differences or respective backgrounds. Two men giving everything they had until something meant even more was taken away: glory; power; victory. While one rose to game-changing fame and success, another experienced a significant dip in his career progress but yet they both stand testament to what can be achieved when you put your heart into something that matters deeply to you.
Impact on Rampage Jackson
The career of MMA legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has had a rollercoaster ride since his fight against Jon Jones at UFC 135. When the two men stepped into the octagon on September 24th, 2011, the 31-year-old Jackson was a reigning light heavyweight champion and was considered an MMA superstar. Jackson was a formidable opponent who had defeated many notable fighters in his illustrious career.
Jon Jones, however, was a different proposition altogether. At 23 years of age, Jones had already begun to make a name for himself due to his unorthodox and aggressive style that allowed him to finish opponents quickly and decisively. It came as no surprise then when Jones handed Jackson his first official loss via unanimous decision that night. The fight result signalled a significant turning point for both men’s careers for vastly different reasons; While it made Jon Jones an MMA sensation overnight and opened up new opportunities for him in the world of combat sports, it hit Rampage hard both mentally and financially. Just months after the fight, Rampage dropped out of the UFC to sign with Bellator where he only managed short-lived success before retiring from professional fighting altogether in 2019. The devastating defeat has become an important milestone in Rampage’s career which serves as reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in this sport if one isn’t prepared for it.