said leading up to UFC 135
that he wanted to be the first man to finish Rampage Jackson in the UFC
. Jones accomplished that goal, forcing Jackson to tap out in the fourth round of an outstanding light heavyweight title fight, and demonstrating once again that he's one of the best and most exciting fighters in MMA
"The game plan was to prove I can strike with Quinton Jackson
," Jones said afterward. "I think we did that."
It was the striking that gave Jones the advantage for most of the fight, but he ended the fight with a submission, sinking in a rear-naked choke in the fourth round. Throughout the fight Jones was on a completely different level than Jackson. There was no question who the better fighter was.
"He's great," Jackson said afterward. "I thought it was hype. The kid is good. I take my hat off to him."
Jones, who has always had an unusual fighting style, came toward Jackson at the start of the fight in a low stance, almost like a lineman in football, and attempted to go for a takedown. Jones wasn't able to get Jackson down, but he was able to grab him and control him in the clinch against the fence.
Once they broke free of their clinch, Jones was working on using his significant reach advantage to stay out of harm's way and land kicks from the outside. Jones landed several kicks that Jackson had no answer for, and he also landed an impressive spinning elbow. At the end of the round Jones threw a dynamic spinning kick that could have given him a highlight reel knockout, but Jackson ducked under it and survived the round.
In the second round Jackson began to look more tentative about Jones' attack, backing away instead of going to the inside. Jackson also seemed to be affected by Jones' leg kicks, which were hammering away at Jackson's lead leg. At the end of the second round Jones jumped guard and attempted a triangle choke, although there wasn't enough time to get close to a submission.
A minute into the third round Jones went for a takedown and got it easily, immediately falling into side control and then transitioning into full mount. Jones landed a couple of hard elbows, cutting Jackson, although Jackson showed off a nice hip escape and got back to his feet. From there they exchanged strikes for the rest of the round, with Jones getting the better of the exchanges. At the very end of the third round Jones went low for a takedown, and when the horn sounded Jones threw Jackson off him, which seemed to anger Jackson.
Early in the fourth round Jones took Jackson down against the cage and got on top of him, then transitioned to his back beautifully, sunk in a rear-naked choke, and tightened it until Jackson submitted. As Jackson tapped, Jones calmly got up, then briefly celebrated at the center of the Octagon. After Jackson had a moment to recover, he walked over and hugged Jones, knowing he had just been beaten by a better fighter.
Jackson has nothing to be ashamed of. There may be no man alive who can beat Jones. He's a remarkable champion.