Quinton Jackson badly wanted to fight in Japan again before retiring and he got the chance to do so tonight (Sat., Feb. 25, 2012) at the famed Saitama Super Arena against Ryan Bader at the UFC 144: "Edgar vs. Henderson" pay-per-view event.
We even learned that "Rampage" had passed up fighting on the second UFC on Fox card to appear at this show to once again put on a show for the Japanese crowd that loves him so. And they wildly cheered for him as he howled his way to the cage to the Pride theme song, creating a hair raising environment one couldn't help but get emotionally caught up in.
It's just too bad Bader had to come in and spoil the homecoming.
"Darth" used a strong wrestling game to go along with improved striking to win a unanimous decision by scores of 30-27 across the board. A tired Jackson simply couldn't avoid getting taken down and never quite got his punches off the way he wanted to.
Hey, at least we got a sweet slam, right?
I'm not sure I've ever seen Jackson come out so fast and pressing forward so hard to start a fight. He even went Nick Diaz for a minute and stepped back to raise his hands to ask for Bader to engage him.
When he did, though, it was to clinch against the cage. Smart strategy, considering the weight issues and injury claims from his training camp that surely sapped his ability to push his cardio.
Bader then proceeded to find a home for the one punch he has that does a great deal of damage (the overhand right) while Jackson had little to offer as an answer to it. He ended the round with some solid punch combinations but none of them landed.
Score one for "Darth."
The second round saw a lot of the same action ... until Jackson went all "Slampage" and put Bader down on his skull with a sweet slam reminiscent of the old Pride days. The fans in Japan exploded with delight.
Unfortunately for them, it didn't last, as Bader got back to his feet, survived the ensuing onslaught of punches and took Jackson down, where he kept him until the round ended.
The final frame began with Jackson ready to head hunt in the hopes that he could score the knockout he surely wanted to give his fans in Japan. Sadly, depending on perspective, Bader used his wrestling to take "Rampage" back to the floor and worked top control.
And that was all there was to it.
Remember, too, to check out our ongoing live coverage of the UFC 144 main card action by clicking here.