TORONTO - If the Jimmy Kimmel show is any indication, MMA fans are in for a very entertaining bout when Jon (Bones) Jones and Quinton (Rampage) Jackson step into the octagon on Saturday night in Denver.
Jones (13-1-0) and Jackson (32-8-0) appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday night and continued their war of words that began way back in July at a press conference to promote Saturday’s UFC 135, heated up at the recent Fight Night 25, boiled over again on a conference call earlier Monday, and then was on display for a national television audience.
Jeez, it’s starting to look like these guys really don’t like each other.
Well, they said as much on the show, and they didn’t even acknowledge each other as they walked onto the stage to shake hands with Kimmel and his guest, Dr. Phil.
What started out as a mere replacement bout for a failed Jones-Rashad Evans clash, derailed due to injuries to Jones, has turned into one of the most anticipated fights of the year. These guys have been wagging their tongues non-stop since Jackson was announced as Evans’ stand-in.
Rampage says Jones, the UFC light-heavyweight champion, is “cocky” and Jones, well, he doesn’t seem to like that much.
“You’ll see once you start talking to him, you’ll see how cocky he is,” Rampage told Kimmel. “There is a thin line between cocky and confident. This kid ain’t really never fought nobody and he ain’t even defended his title yet and he’s already talkin’ down to me … a little snot-nosed kid, just look at him.”
There may be some truth to what Jackson says. While the 33-year-old veteran has been through some wars and has tangled with and beaten some of the biggest names in the sport — Lyoto Machida, Wanderlei Silva, and Chuck Liddell to name a few — the 24-year-old, 6-foot-4 champ still has much to prove.
Jones has yet to defend his belt, the one he snatched from an injured Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 128 earlier this year, and despite his only loss coming by way of disqualification against Matt Hamill in December 2009, his resume doesn’t quite fit his attitude.
But words won’t mean much come Saturday night, actions will determine the victor. And you’ve got to think that the UFC and its new partner FoxSports will be quietly rooting for Jones.
The young champion carried himself very well on Kimmel’s show and in him the new partners may have the face they need to take mixed martial arts even further into the mainstream. He’s well-spoken, witty and clean-cut. And Jones definitely got the better of Jackson on Monday.
“Phil, you’re a doctor, what’s wrong with this man?” asked Jones, pointing at Jackson.
On another occasion Jones was asked by Kimmel to compare the fighting styles of himself and his opponent. “It would be like Spider-man vs. Frankenstein,” the champ quipped.
And when Rampage warned the champ not to let his kids watch this the fight, Jones shot back, “No, I don’t want them to know what (carnage) their dad is really capable of … They’d be like: ‘Hey daddy, you were so mean to that ugly man.’”
It was reminiscent of the way Muhammed Ali used to poke fun at his opponents. OK, maybe not Ali at his best, but you get the picture. And the athletic Jones certainly has the personality to make him a star. Will he be able to get past the bruising Jackson this Saturday? It’s hard to say. Jones will probably show from rust from a six-month layoff, and Rampage, the first man to unify the UFC and Pride titles, is tough, experienced and seemingly intent on taking Jones down a few pegs.
“I want to be the first person to beat Jon Jones,” Rampage said during Monday’s conference call. “Give him his first ass-whopping so he can go on to be that great fighter I know he can be.”
That’s not only a threat, it’s an endorsement.
Dana White, at a Tuesday press conference in Hollywood to promote the UFC’s network debut on Fox Sports on Nov. 12 with the heavyweight title bout between Cain Velasquez and Junior do Santos being beamed into houses across North America: “I made this fight because I could guarantee it would be a great fight. I can guarantee you if this fight goes 30 seconds or 30 minutes, this is going to be a fight right here.” The clash of the two titans will be the first UFC fight on FOX, kicking off a seven-year agreement reportedly worth nearly $100 million per year ... In related news, White told MMAWeekly.com that the winner of the heavyweight fight between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 will get a shot at the winner of Velasquez-Dos Santos for the belt ... All 24 fighters who competed in this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 25 have received medical suspensions, though just four are being forced to sit out longer than seven days. Shamar Bailey, Lance Benoist, Canadian Jason MacDonald and Jake Shields are the four fighters who were given longer suspensions. Bailey and Benoist have been given 60-day suspensions because of facial trauma and stitches, respectively, while Shields and MacDonald will be out 30 days due to their TKO losses ... UFC’s parent company, Zuffa, has released the Ultimate Matt Hughes collection. The DVD shows 12 fights from the welterweight’s career, along with interviews with Frank Trigg, B.J. Penn and Georges St. Pierre, who all speak about their fights with Hughes.
HENDERSON TO TAKE ON RUA
Dan Henderson’s entrance back into the UFC will be a grand one.
MMAWeekly.com has reported that Henderson and mixed martial arts great Mauricio (Shogun) Rua have agreed to tangle in a light-heavyweight bout at UFC 139 on Nov. 19.
The fight will mark the 41-year-old Henderson’s return to the UFC after defeating Russian heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce.
According to the report, the bout will likely be the new main event for the card that saw its prior main event between heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and no. 1 contender Junior dos Santos get moved to the Nov. 12 UFC on FOX card.
It will be Henderson’s third tenure in the UFC after recently spending some time in Strikeforce, where he won the light-heavyweight crown in March.
Rua is coming off a win over Forrest Griffin in a rematch at UFC 134, where he knocked out the TUF Season 1 winner in the first round.
GSP IS ‘BEATABLE’: ELLENBERGER
Jake Ellenberger wants a piece of UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
Fresh off his TKO dismantling of Jake Shields last Saturday at UFC Fight Night 25, Ellenberger appeared on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour with some interesting things to say, including that GSP is “beatable.”
Ellenberger, whose victory over Shields has catapulted him into the title-shot conversation, made it clear he would like another fight in 2011 and that he has already thought about tangling with GSP.
“GSP is phenomenal, if not the best fighter in world,” Ellenberger told Helwani. “He’s someone you have to pressure. You can’t stay back on him and let him control the distance and the range. He’s definitely beatable.”
While Ellenberger did not go into detail, he claims to have discovered some weaknesses in GSP’s game.
“I’m confident I can beat him. Like I said, anyone can be beat, and to beat a guy like GSP, you have to keep pressure and look for some holes.
“He may not have very many, but they’re there,” he said.
St. Pierre, incidentally, has defended his belt six times in a row and has not been beaten since he was upset by Matt Serra in April 2007.
HUGHES’ FUTURE UNCERTAIN
Is Matt Hughes’ career coming to an end? The future UFC Hall of Famer’s wife thinks it should be.
“My wife tells me I’m done fighting,” Hughes said during a conference call on Monday to promote this Saturday’s event in Denver. “She wanted me to quit after the B.J. (Penn) fight. But we’ll just see. We’ll just see what I feel like and what the UFC wants to do.”
When Hughes steps into the octagon to take on Josh Koscheck at UFC 135, it will be the 25th fight of his UFC career and the last on his current contract. It’s unclear what kind of future Hughes has inside the octagon, especially if he suffers another knockout loss like the one to Penn, but it seems unlikely that he’ll ever be a top contender for the UFC welterweight title again.
A lot of what the “UFC wants to do” probably depends on how Hughes looks against Koscheck, who is a replacement fighter after Diego Sanchez pulled out because of a broken hand.
OVEREEM IN FIGHT WITH FORMER TEAM
Alistair Overeem just can’t seem to sit still.
The former Strikeforce heavyweight champ and 2010 K-1 World CP champion and recent addition to the UFC announced via his Twitter account that he has split from his long-time MMA team, Golden Glory.
“As with any relationship, you have trust,” Overeem said via the social media. “When differences lead to a breach of trust, there’s no turning back and no way to continue a positive, working relationship.”
While Overeem did not clarify what he meant by “breach of trust,” he did add in the statement that he doesn’t like to “air my dirty laundry.”
This most recent turn of events come just weeks after Overeem signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC that includes a headlining bout against former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar at UFC 141 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas.
Golden Glory head honcho Bas Boon told MMAjunkie.com he may take legal action against the fighter.
“I’ve been together with Alistair for 12 years,” he said. “He slept in my house; I treated him like real friends. It’s kind of sad that maybe other influences by other people made him decide to go away, especially on the deal of a lifetime. That’s very disappointing.”
JOSE RODRIGUEZ’S RANT
Hate to think of it, but it may be Wanderlei Silva’s last fight in the UFC.
With Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort sidelined due to injury, the legendary Brazilian slugger has been called upon to take on Cung Le in the co-main event of San Jose’s UFC 139 on Nov. 19.
It’s no secret ‘The Axe Murderer’ has suffered plenty of setbacks since coming back to the UFC.
Since returning in 2007, he has amassed a 2-4 record — hardly indicative of his championship reign during his Pride years.
Two of those UFC losses came via nasty knockouts. The most crushing being his last in which Chris (The Crippler) Leben took a mere 27 seconds to dispose of the Brazilian.
Cung Le is a creative striker with a 7-1 record and all his wins have come via (T)KO.
He has beaten Frank Shamrock and Scott (Hands of Steel) Smith.
He’s hardly a pushover.
If Silva (33-11-1) loses, it may be his last fight in the Octagon — even though he’s only 35.
Not because he’s no longer a draw — he’s still one of the most revered names in the sport — but because there is some well-set precedent to exit.
It would be less than surprising to see UFC president Dana White force the reluctant warrior into retirement — much the same way he did with Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell.
White won’t let him continue on and suffer extensive damage due to brutal knockouts. He’s made that very clear.