An inherent part of the mixed martial arts (MMA) life cycle is building new stars on the ashes of faded ones.
And the UFC on FOX 6 co-main event between Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira, on paper, seems to be precisely that kind of set up for the much-hyped Brazilian, whose visa problems and high-risk, low-reward reputation delayed his entrance into Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) for some time.
Once a potent offensive machine with numbing punching power, as well as outstanding wrestling, Jackson's fade in recent bouts has all the hallmarks of a guy who simply doesn't want to be fighting anymore. In recent bouts, where he was outworked by Ryan Bader to a decision, dominated and submitted in four rounds by 205-pound champion Jon Jones, and took an uninspiring decision over Matt Hamill, Jackson's worst habits have become more prominent than his once-formidable assets.
Prone to a one-dimensional gameplan, "Rampage" never developed a kicking game and neglects his outstanding offensive wrestling, which further limits the effectiveness of his hands. With one shot, Jackson is probably the hardest single-blow puncher in the Light Heavyweight division.
But, it's an increasingly rarefied ace he can play.
Teixeira, meanwhile, has come full circle in a long career, much of it spent in the wilds of Brazil hammering out a series of impressive wins. Now undefeated (2-0) inside the Octagon, his last outing -- a vicious, two-round beating of Fabio Maldonado -- was the kind of catapulting performance to make him a fighter to watch in the division.
With motivation a certainty, and the spotty showings of "Rampage" of late, the fight this evening (Jan. 26, 2013) from the United Center in Chicago, Ill., is about as good match as Teixeira can get given the risk-reward ratio.
Jackson's upper-body strength and takedown defense remain excellent. Teixeira will have to show he's tightened up his stand up, as he was caught flush a couple times against Maldonado, wading in square prior to getting nailed.
Jackson can be frustrated if you can take him down, lay on top and work while maintaining position, as he doesn't threaten submissions and essentially looks to power his way back up, often with brute-force techniques that expend a lot of energy, but require a skilled grappler to negate (Jackson's still the only person I've seen bridge out of a Jones mount, which is a feat few will ever achieve).
Conditioning will be huge in this fight. Teixeira has to be wary early when Rampage's massive power is most dangerous, and he should take advantage of the long-existent holes in Jackson's kicking game, which is essentially non-existent. That will allow him to mix up strikes that will set up tie-ups and takedown attempt.
For Jackson, his big-time right hand is probably the biggest threat in this fight, as Teixeira changes levels to shoot, or languishes in the clinch. The longer it goes, and the more time that's spent on the ground, the more that favors the Brazilian, especially if he can maintain top position and frustrate the ex-champ.
Teixeira will have a dangerous opening round, flitting in and out to test the striking waters as Jackson responds with occasional haymakers, hoping to assert his huge edge in striking power. After getting caught early, it's quite likely that Teixeira may need to kill the clock by clinching or even pulling guard.
However, after he gets settled in, he'll have just enough effectiveness to score with harrassing kicks, quick combinations and tie-ups to outwork Rampage.
At some point in the second round, Teixeira will nail a takedown -- it may take several attempts, given Jackson's outstanding counter-wrestling and upper-body strength -- but he'll get it. From there, he'll ride from top position and wear down Jackson down moderate ground-and-pound, while making Rampage expend energy trying to escape.
He'll repeat the trick in the third, battering Jackson en route to a third-round submission win by rear naked choke.
Teixeira via submission
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the UFC on FOX 6 main card action, which is slated to start promptly at 8 p.m. ET. Up-to-the-minute updates and fight-by-fight coverage will begin to flow earlier than that, however, around 4:30 p.m. ET with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook and FX.
Jason Probst can be reached at twitter.com/jasonprobst.