Quinton Jackson was the heavy favorite going into his UFC 130 main event bout with Matt Hamill.
"Rampage" proved that he belonged in the top of the division with a thoroughly dominant decision victory over "The Hammer" but was it enough to sell UFC fans on his chances against light heavyweight champion Jon Jones?
Hamill had no answer for Jackson's takedown defense, technique and power and in essence, "he is, who we thought he was," which is a mid to upper level 205-pounder.
How did Jackson pull off the victory against Hamill?
More on Hamill's puzzling fight strategy and Jackson's hesitant dominance inside.
Matt Hamill seemed to have a smart gameplan in the first 30 seconds. He attacked Jackson's vulnerable legs with kicks and kept him off balance with punches from a distance. It was when he shot in for takedowns that he got himself in trouble. Hamill didn't set up his takedowns at all, shooting in from too far away, failing to commit and drive forward once he was there.
The Wolfslair fighter easily stuffed every attempt and then punished Hamill for trying with big short uppercuts and hooks. Rampage also countered Hamill's lazy punches with big hooks and uppercuts as well. Hamill began to get very hesitant with his punches, wary of a "Rampage" counter with every strike he threw.
The problem that frustrated the fans in attendance and those watching on pay-per-view, was Jackson's inability to follow up when he landed something flush. Jackson had Hamill on the ropes at the end of the first and second rounds, but surprisingly, let him off the hook and reset each time. Jackson's corner even implored "Rampage" to put Hamill to sleep in the third round but he couldn't follow through.
The crowd began to get impatient with both fighters but as Hamill slowed down and threw less strikes, Jackson had less to counter. That's the problem with a pure counter-striker, he's reliant on his opponent being aggressive so he can throw his own strikes. It was very difficult for him to throw the first punch.
When the final horn sounded, Jackson was awarded an easy unanimous decision victory and then he pulled off his best Tito Ortiz impression, blaming his performance on a fractured hand in training.
For Matt Hamill, this was the typical performance one would expect for a fringe top 20 fighter against one of the best in the world. He was simply outclassed in every department, including his bread and butter of wrestling.
With how easily he was dominated by top five light heavyweights Jon Jones and now Jackson, "The Hammer" likely won't be given a top opponent again. It was a stretch that he was awarded this fight but "Rampage" put him in his place. Hamill is 34 years old and this was likely the best version of himself that we will see in the Octagon. He'll continue fighting in the UFC but his role will be that of mid to upper-level gatekeeper.
For Jackson, while he was dominant, he was still frustrating. Despite being known for his devastating knockout power, this was his fourth straight fight to go to a decision and his sixth out of seven overall. Maybe the hand injury had something to do with it, maybe not. Dana White said that "Rampage" will be given a title shot against Jon Jones as long as his hand is cleared by a doctor so we'll have to play the waiting game while the top contender gets checked out.
Did Jackson do enough to convince you he will hold his own with Jon Jones?
Let us know in the comments below, Maniacs.