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Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson says Chael Sonnen can’t take him down

Rampage Jackson Photos

LOS ANGELES -- Before his first-round Bellator Grand Prix matchup with Chael Sonnen was even officially announced, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson wasn’t happy with the idea. He went on The MMA Hour last month and aired his gripes with being matched against another wrestler.

Now that the bout is official for Jan. 20 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., the former UFC light heavyweight champion still isn’t enthused with what he perceives is a concerted effort to match him with grapplers instead of strikers.

“I’m sick of fighting all these damn wrestlers,” Jackson said at a Bellator media day Wednesday. “The promoters, they must love it, they must love watching me fight those stale-ass wrestling matches, they keep throwing wrestlers at me when why wouldn’t they throw strikers at me.”

That said, the fight with Sonnen is a reality. And it’s anticipated that takedowns and wrestling will be the key to victory for Sonnen, who comes from a deep wrestling base and is giving up size to his opponent.

So Rampage is getting with the program. He says wrestling is a focal point of his training camp and he’s not going to let Sonnen take him to the mat.

“I will be surprised if Chael can take me down in this fight,” Jackson said. “I’ve been concentrating a lot on wrestling, and a lot on all different types of takedown defenses. So my takedowns is getting better as a result of it, you know? I’ve always been a defensive wrestler, but when I go in there in the fights, I get so caught up in trying to knock people’s heads off that wrestling goes out the window when you’re throwing punches and kicks and stuff.”

In his most recent bout, Jackson was thoroughly outwrestled by Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in a unanimous decision loss. But it isn’t always that way. Jackson recalls the night in PRIDE when he knocked out one of the sport’s wrestling OGs, the late Kevin Randleman, a two-time NCAA wrestling champion and a former UFC heavyweight champ.

“Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t,” Jackson said. “I remember when I fought Kevin Randleman, I was so wary about him taking me down, I figured it if he takes me down, was going to be so hard for me to get back up because he’s just so good at ground and pound and keeping you on your back and it takes so much energy to get back up. So I’m like, I’ve got to make sure he doesn’t take me down. That was one of my most proud moments fighting a wrestler, because he couldn’t take me down.”

Sonnen, for his part, rattled off a litany of wrestler who have been defeated by Jackson, and said he’s not going to fall for whatever bait Jackson is trying to set.

“You never know with Rampage,” Sonnen said. “He says he doesn’t want to fight wrestlers. He beat Matt Lindland, who is one of my coaches, beat Dan Henderson, who is one of the guys I look up to. Knocked out Kevin Randleman. These guys are pretty good wrestlers. I don’t know where this ‘Rampage doesn’t like fighting wrestlers’ thing is coming from. He’s working that angle, but I don’t know, man. I’m not falling asleep on this guy.”

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