No doubt if you watched this past weekend UFC 123, you saw a different fighter in the main event. “Rampage” Jackson has had a lot of ups and downs the past few years, but now looks to be more focused and headstrong then ever. With people even comparing this “Rampage” to the old Pride days.
In his last fight Jackson started training camp at 252 lbs. and had to drop down to 205 lbs; not to mention he had to do a ton of publicity behind his film The A-Team. It was during a recent trip to Japan to promote the A-Team movie that changed Jackson’s outlook on how he fights, “one of the people interviewing me remembered me from my Pride days…he was saying back in Pride I used to fight a different style then I come to fight in America and I don’t fight the same way and he asked me why? It took me a second to think about it and it’s the energy of the crowd I guess.”
He also admitted that the interview had touched him and made him realize more than ever that he had lost his fighting for honor and respect and was now in it for the money. For his latest fight Jackson concentrated more on technique than cutting weight and to work mostly with his striking coach. To also go back to his fighting days Jackson’s walkout song was the old Pride theme.
During the first two rounds it was like watching the old “Rampage” fight stalking his opponent and controlling the pace of the match. Lyoto Machida was very hesitant to really engage in the first two rounds, nearly came off with a victory in the third round out striking Jackson and even getting him to the ground. Lyoto controlled “Rampage” from the top position, but unlike his previous bout with Rashad Evans, Jackson was able to work and not just lay there. It was then that Machida tried to go for an arm bar when Jackson was able to pick him up, in reminiscent of the Ricardo Arona slam, and tried to powerbomb him. Luckily, Lyoto was able to escape and finish the fight strong.
In the end, “Rampage” thought he came up short, but wound up winning by a split decision. Most people saw the decision the way it was, but for Jackson he showed how his heart is back in the fight by offering Lyoto an immediate rematch. It’s good to see the old “Rampage” this is the fighter I would like to see against Evans.