Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Fabio Maldonado and Quinton Jackson will slug it out this Saturday (April 25, 2015) at UFC 186 inside Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Maldonado is a boxer known for his complete disregard toward defense. While it's a painful way to fight, the Brazilian has nevertheless won his last four 205-pound bouts and a place in the hearts of fans.
In a fairly unique turn of events, "Rampage" is back! Apparently, UFC has tossed Steve Bosse to the curb now that Jackson won his court battles, so now the knockout artist will once again have the opportunity to ply his craft opposite the brawler.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:
Key Wins: Gian Villante (UFC Fight Night 38), Joey Beltran (UFC Fight Night 29), Hans Stringer (UFC 179)
Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (TUF Brazil 3 Finale), Glover Teixeira (UFC 153)
Keys to Victory: Maldonado is very effectively offensively, but he rarely bothers to defend strikes. Against fighters who are not elite heavyweights, the Brazilian's chin usually holds up quite well.
There's something beautifully simple about Maldonado's approach to fighting. It's entirely the same each time, as Maldonado pushes toward his opponent, looks to get his back to the fence, and then unleashes an endless stream of punches into his foe's mid-section and face.
Usually, he's also get nailed in the dome by strikes during each step of that process, but that's life for "The Iron Hillbilly."
Despite his pudgy appearance, Maldonado can punch for days. Whenever his opponent utilizes an early grappling advantage, Maldonado looks to simple outlast them and their silly submission attempts via pure toughness. Then, it's back to the aforementioned process when his opponent no longer has the energy to drag him down.
The reason I write about how Maldonado fights rather than how he should fight is because Maldonado is going to do exactly the same thing, regardless whether he's in the ring with an elite heavyweight or Joey Beltran.
At least it's entertaining.
Key Wins: Muhammed Lawal (Bellator 120), Christian M'Pumbu (Bellator 110), Lyoto Machida (UFC 123)
Key Losses: Jon Jones (UFC 135), Glover Teixeira (UFC on FOX 6), Ryan Bader (UFC 144)
Keys to Victory: Jackson comes from a wrestling background, but the man is a boxer at heart. "Rampage" loves to throw hands, and it's earned him 16 knockout wins.
To be clear, Jackson could probably take down his opponent and hold him there for a fairly easy decision win. However, Jackson has constantly complained about his opponents doing just that and requested a foe to slug with him, so this is written under the assumption that "Rampage" will live up to his word and look for the knockout.
Firstly, no one except Jackson and his team have any real idea what type of shape "Rampage" is in. Jackson is hardly a cardio machine at this point -- or any point, really -- in his career, and he probably hasn't been training all that seriously since this fight was scrapped a few weeks back.
With that in mind, Jackson has to fight accordingly. If he can only fight competitively for a round and a half, a measured pace will get him eaten alive after he gets tired. If Jackson does have the conditioning to fight a decent pace for the full 15 minutes, then he should look to box with Maldonado.
Jackson has the technical edge and power advantage, meaning that the fight favors him until he gets tired.
However, if Jackson is not in good shape, then he needs to attempt to take Maldonado out immediately. Maldonado's chin is historically quite solid, but "Rampage" hits plenty hard and opportunities to land will be abundant.
Bottom Line: This should be an entertaining slugfest between two men who are not going to contend for the title anytime soon.
At this point, everyone knows precisely what Maldonado brings to the table. He's a tough boxer with solid conditioning, which is apparently enough to earn a ranking in the light heavyweight division. He's good enough to beat the bottom half of the division, but anyone with an elite skill and decent conditioning will maul him.
Win or lose, Maldonado and his face-first style of boxing aren't going anywhere.
On the other hand, Jackson's situation is a bit more interesting. "Rampage" has neither the skill set nor intention to climb the light heavyweight ranks in 2015. However, he's looking to provide entertaining fights that favor his style of fighting, precisely like this one. If Jackson wins, expect similar match-making in his future.
If Jackson loses to Maldonado -- a match specifically suited earn Jackson a paycheck without making him wrestle -- Jackson will likely be forced to take an even bigger step back. Luckily, light heavyweight has plenty of fighters happy to trade punches, such as last weekend's "Fight of the Night" winner, Gian Villante.
At UFC 186, Fabio Maldonado and Quinton Jackson will collide in a fan-friendly brawl. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?