July 20, 2011
Bones zings Rampage
By DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency
It has been noted in the past that UFC fight-hype news conferences seem rather gentlemanly compared to those of boxing, where fighters often like to intimidate each other.
But there was no love lost between light-heavyweight champion Jon (Bones) Jones (13-1-0) and challenger Quinton (Rampage) Jackson (32-8-0) when the two sat down in Denver on Tuesday to promote their upcoming headliner for UFC 135 on Sept. 24, at a gathering that was broadcast live on UFC.com.
What started out as playful jabs between Jones and former champ Jackson morphed into something a little more personal when Rampage questioned Jones’ legitimacy for winning his belt off an injured Mauricio (Shogun) Rua.
“I think I displayed pretty good kickboxing against Shogun. Shogun is one who will throw knees and elbows and actually throw high kicks,” Jones said when Jackson questioned the champ’s stand-up skills. “Rampage is like fighting a boxer in my opinion. If he thinks that I’m intimidated to stand by him then I think it’s great for me that he’s under that impression.”
“You fought Shogun when he was rusty as hell. He was off an injury, hadn’t fought for a year, like two knee surgeries,” Jackson responded.
“There will always be excuses. I’m sure after our fight I’ll hear, ‘You didn’t fight the Pride Rampage, you fought the movie star Rampage,’ ” a straight-faced Jones said, referring to Jackson having acted in the remake of the A-Team.
“You’re right, there’s always excuses. There’s a hundred of them. I’ve got like three excuses for every time I’ve lost,” Rampage said, laughing.
Then Jones landed a stinger.
“You thinking of anything good now?” he asked Rampage.
“I ain’t gonna need no excuses after this fight. You’re gonna need a bunch of ’em,” Jackson shot back.
It was a lively exchange between the two fighters and hopefully a foreshadowing of their Denver fight. It’s hard to call this one. Jackson’s as tough as nails, and at 33 is not past his prime. But Jones has looked unstoppable on his way to the belt.
The event marks the first time the organization returns to the Mile-High City in any significant way since it all started at UFC 1 at the McNichols Sports Arena in November 1993.
Of course, there are still a few UFCs to go before we arrive in Denver, including an intriguing main-event 205-pound clash between Rashad (Suga) Evans (20-1-1) and Tito Ortiz (17-8-1) on Aug. 6. UFC president Dana White confirmed at the press conference that should he beat Ortiz, Evans would get a shot at the winner of Jones-Jackson. White also left the door open for the Huntington Beach Bad Bay getting his shot, should he prove his win over Ryan Bader at UFC 132 wasn’t just an aberration.
It was Jones’ 24th birthday on Tuesday, which prompted the light-heavyweight champ to repeatedly tell White to “quit calling me kid” ... The Denver event marks the first title bout in the organization’s history in which two African American fighters will battle for a divisional crown ... It appears White is no longer mad at Lyoto Machida. White said Machida is slated to replace Jones or Rampage at UFC 135 if either fighter has to bow out of the title fight. White had been angry with Machida, who had originally accepted a fight against Evans at UFC 133 but then changed his mind and demanded “Anderson SIlva-money.” ... Who says MMA is just a man’s game? White said at the press conference that “probably 45% of our fan base is now female.” ... Jones said he is working with a nutritionist and expects to move up to heavyweight by age 26 or 27 ... A featherweight bout between Johnny Eduardo and Raphael Assuncao has been announced for UFC 134 in Rio De Janeiro in August. A five-fight veteran of the WEC, Assuncao was once considered one of the division’s top contenders. Eduardo is set to make his debut with the promotion. He is riding an 11-fight win streak and hasn’t lost in more than four years ... It has been confirmed that a UFC 133 contest between Alexander Gustafsson and Matt Hamill will air on Spike TV. The recently arranged matchup, in which Hamill replaced an injured Vladimir Matyushenko, is one of two UFC 133 preliminary card matchups that will air on Spike. An additional four bouts will stream on Facebook ... Dennis Hallman vs. Brian Ebersole has been promoted to UFC 133’s main card after a planned fight between Rich Franklin and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fell through ... The UFC’s U.K. office has announced that a middleweight matchup between Mark Munoz and Chris Leben will headline UFC 138 at the LG Arena in Birmingham later this year ... Lavar Johnson has withdrawn from Friday’s Strikeforce Challengers event due to an injury. He is being replaced by former Louisiana State University football player Shawn Jordan.