source: Steven Marrocco | mmajunkie.com
Fighting a guy like Jon Jones, you can't really hang your hat on any sort of predictions.
A guy like Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson (32-9 MMA, 7-3 UFC) is a little different story, according to Ryan Bader (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC), who spoke to MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) about his impending fight against the former champ in the co-main event of UFC 144.
UFC 144 takes place Feb. 25 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Main-card fights air live on pay-per-view. Broadcast plans for the preliminary card have yet to be announced.
Bader is on the mend after a two-fight skid that saw him submitted by now-champ Jon Jones at UFC 126 and tapped out by Tito Ortiz at UFC 132. In his most recent performance, he rebounded with a 77-second KO of vet Jason Brilz at UFC 139, which likely saved him from a irrecoverable slide in the light-heavyweight division.
Jackson's place on the ladder is less certain. Nearing the end of a decade-plus career in MMA, he was submitted by Jones in a bid to win back the title and requested a fight in Japan as much for nostalgic reasons as a career boost.
Bader, who won the "The Ultimate Fighter 8," was a fan of Jackson's in his days as a wrestler and before he made it to the UFC. But things have changed now that the two are set to fight.
"You can go back with your career afterwards and say I fought all these guys, but now's not the time," he said. "Now, I get a name like 'Rampage,' and my mindset changes."
Bader brings a strong wresting pedigree to all of his fights, but since emerging from the reality show, he's focused on becoming a dangerous striker. He's so far managed to stop three of his UFC opponents by strikes as well as defeat more experienced strikers such Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Jackson, though, presents a more significant threat in that department. Known for heavy hands and a strong chin, he has largely abandoned his wrestling roots for a boxing-centric style. He's managed to stop three of his UFC opponents with his hands and wobble several others with punches.
But Bader agrees with observers that say Jackson has become predictable over the years, and therefore easier to beat.
"You fight a guy like Jon Jones, you really don't know what he's going to bring," he said. "It's hard to bring somebody in and have somebody replicate that.
"But fighting 'Rampage,' you know what he's trying to do. He's trying to walk you down, use head movement, and throw those big bombs on you. He does have some elbows and knees, but watching his fights, you pretty much know what he's going to do."
"But we'll be ready for whatever. Maybe he changed some things up for the Japanese crowd."
Jackson spoke of returning to his roots in a press conference held in Japan announcing the Feb. 25 event. A star of the now-defunct PRIDE, he said the Japanese audience encouraged him to take more risks when he fought, which lead to more exciting performances.
Jackson's powerbomb of Ricardo Arona at "PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004" remains one of the most spectacular pieces of highlight tape in the sport.
Bader isn't sure which fighter he's going to face, so he's prepared for either.
"It's not 'Rampage' the guy I grew up watching," he said. "It's 'Rampage' the guy standing across the cage that I've got to go out there and beat."