To watch full Rampage Jackson vs. Fabio Maldonado fight video highlights click here.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweights Quinton Jackson and Fabio Maldonado last night (April 25, 2015) at UFC 186 inside the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
It's actually a bit of a miracle that Jackson entered the cage. Nearly a month ago, a court injunction forced "Rampage" off the card, but it was overruled just a few days ago. Regardless of all the drama, there's no doubt Jackson was hunting for the knockout opposite Maldonado.
Of course, none of that mattered to Maldonado. The Brazilian brawler was going to walk forward and slug with his opponent whether it was Jackson, Bosse, or some random heavyweight.
Jackson opened up with some quick jabs, while Maldonado kept his defense tight. Jackson was really looking to be fast on his feet, as Jackson also mixed sharp low kicks into his attack. On a couple of occasions, Jackson opened up with his combinations.
Maldonado looked to pick his shots, conserving his energy and focusing on defense. He landed a few nice punches, but for the most part, "Rampage" controlled the stand up and dictated where the fight went.
A strong start for the returning UFC veteran.
Maldonado definitely increased his pace to start the second round. Maldonado controlled the center of the Octagon and began to work his usual style of fighting by forcing his opponent into the fence. From that position, Jackson attempted to score with knees while Maldonado dug into the body.
By the halfway point in the round, Jackson was really starting to slow down. Whenever Jackson managed to create distance, he scored with some big punches, but Maldonado was relentless. "Rampage" actually caught a bit of a second wind with a minute remaining and seemed to be turning the tide a bit, but a sudden Maldonado takedown may have sealed the round for the Brazilian.
While neither man did significant damage in the final round, Jackson controlled a majority of the stand up exchanges. Too tired to fully move out of the way, Jackson did a nice job avoiding his opponent's punches with head movement alone. On the other hand, Maldonado just never got his hands going and was behind in both quantity and quality.
This is the sharpest "Rampage" has looked in a long time. He made nice usage of low kicks -- to Joe Rogan's utter delight -- and even some elbow strikes. Plus, his head movement and jab were largely on point in this bout.
Whether all that holds up against a fighter blasting double legs is another question, but he looked good here.
Jackson is not going to climb the division any time soon, but he's clearly still at a fairly high level. There are plenty of entertaining scraps in "Rampage's" future if he's matched up correctly. For example, a fight with Jan Blachowicz would be a fun and winnable bout for Jackson.
Maldonado had opportunities in this fight, but he failed to capitalize on the majority of them. He simply wasn't active enough, not even with his famous body punches. Maldonado allowed Jackson to dictate the pace of the fight, and he suffered the result of it.
This was particularly true in the first round. "Rampage" may have been at his most dangerous early, but that's a threat Maldonado needed to brave. If he had forced Jackson to expend energy while landing some nice body shots in the opening round, Jackson may have slowed down in time for Maldonado to turn it around.
For Maldonado's next opponent, a battle of boxers with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira would make sense.
At UFC 186, "Rampage" Jackson successfully made his return to the Octagon. Now that he's back in the UFC, what does the knockout artist's future hold?
For complete UFC 186 "Johnson vs Horiguchi" results and play-by-play, click HERE.