On Tuesday, July 19, the UFC used an open to the public press conference to begin building awareness for UFC 135, which will take place on September 24 at Denver, Coloradoâs Pepsi Center. The two main event fighters, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon âBonesâ Jones and Quinton âRampageâ Jackson joined UFC president Dana White at the dais for a, spirited press conference.
The September bout will be Jonesâ first defense of the title that he wrested from Mauricio âShogunâ Rua at UFC 128 in March of this year. Jones, dominated the fight with Rua, using an unorthodox and aggressive style to defeat the much more experienced Rua.Â With the third round TKO victory, Jones, at 23 years of age, became the youngest UFC champion in history.
Jones was originally scheduled to face former UFC light heavyweight champion âSugaâ Rashad Evans in his first title defense, but a lingering hand injury to Jones prevented that fight from taking place.
As has been the case with many UFC bouts as of late, the injury caused some reshuffling and when all the dust settled, Jones was matched up against another former UFC light heavyweight champion in âRampage.â
The UFC has struck marketing gold with UFC 135âs main event. In Jones they have a fighter that many see as the future of the organization, while the verbose and unfilteredÂ âRampageâ is always ready to share exactly whatâs on his mind. When the two met in front of the press on Tuesday, they showed some of what can be expected as the fight draws near.
Jackson got things started early in the press conference when a member of the press referenced his âold schoolâ status in MMA. “Who you calling old, dawg?Â I’m only 33, man. You all act like I’m Randy Couture’s old decrepit a**, goodness,â an incredulous Jackson said. “You know, if I gotta represent the old school, then I gotta represent ‘em.â
Jackson then used the old school reference to segue into the first personal attack on his opponent, “I was younger than him (Jones) when I started in Pride, I was 21, 22, when I was fighting people like Wanderlei, so I guess so, I’m old school. With old school comes experience. He’s the youngest champion, but I think he’s the least experienced champion in UFC history.â
The shot at his age and inexperience did not faze Jones as he retorted, âI believe Brock Lesnar might have been the least experienced champion, but fighting ‘Rampage’ is an honor, I’ve been watching him since I was in high school and college and I respect what he does for our sport,â Jones said. “I’ve been training for me to elevate. I think when you beat people that have accomplished so much you almost take a little bit of their thunder, their accolades, that’s what I’ve done with ‘Shogun’ and that’s what I’d like to do with ‘Rampage’ Jackson.”
Jackson then offered that all the pressure was on Jones in this bout and that he felt no matter what the outcome was he would walk away a winner, âI’m already winning, I’m already successful. A lot of my friends I grew up with didn’t make it, they ain’t breathing. I feel like I’m already winning, you can’t beat a guy like that, no matter what. I come to put it all on the line. I’m not coming with some crazy gameplan.â
Jackson then stressed his confidence level, comparing it to when he defeated Chuck Liddell for the light heavyweight title at UFC 71, “The last time I was this confident I knocked somebody out in the first round and I got that belt.”
Jones then said he would not be intimidated by Jacksonâs stand up game, referencing his performance against Rua, another famed striker. To which Jackson replied, “I just have to say, I do respect you dawg, straight up, I do think you’re the future of MMA, straight up, keeping it real, but you fought ‘Shogun’ when he was rusty as hell, dawg. He was off of injury, off for like two knee surgeries.”
The two then had a brief exchange in regard to the topic of fighters making excuses for losses which ended with Jackson stating, âOh, there ain’t gonna be any excuses after this fight. I ain’t gonna need not one, you’re gonna need a bunch of ‘em.”
The oddsmakers disagree with Jacksonâs assessment of the fight, making Jones a huge favorite. Jones is coming in at -500 in the early betting lines while Jackson is +350.
You can call this fight new school versus old school. You can view a Jones victory as a passing of the proverbial MMA torch. You can see a Jackson win as proof that the old warriors still have it. Whatever the outcome of the fight, one thing is for certain the build up and anticipation for this fight will be palpable.