Phil and David break down everything you need to know about the rematch no one asked for for Bellator 175, and everything you don’t about finding substance in sewage.
Rampage Jackson and King Mo rematch this March 31, 2017 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.
Single sentence summary:
Phil: The rematch that absolutely no-one wanted, but with added fat.
David: A long-ignored score settled with modest bloodlust.
Record: Quinton Jackson 37-11 King Mo 20-6-1 No Contest
Odds: Quinton Jackson +275 King Mo -335
History lesson / introduction to the fighters
Phil: This was always going to be the way that it went for Rampage, wasn’t it? He was always a malcontent with a talent for self-promotion, but one who burned the bridges he left behind him. Every time he came in shape (the Henderson fight, the Jones fight) it took him longer and longer to get back into some kind of fighting trim, and every time he left a promotion in a fit of pique he had less options left on the table. So, here we are. Stuck in an inexpressibly weird lawsuit about his home, fighting in Bellator because he’s legally obligated to, against a guy that he already “beat.” And fat, with busted knees. It’s all a bit sad.
David: Malcontent? #Problematic. But seriously, Rampage’s career is the kind of rear view mirror we’d reflect on cheerfully in any other sport. Thanks to the political machinations of baldfathers in different promotions, we’re here instead. And yes, by Jackson’s design as well. I would have preferred watching him fight Vinnie Jones armed with a 10 pound meatsoother on a subway, and playing video games but alas.
Phil: King Mo has probably approached his MMA career with more consistent diligence than Rampage has, but he never had the dynamite offense or the personal charisma. He was also debatably fairly unlucky. A serious staph infection early in his career, a poorly handled drug test failure, and a run of fights which would always get derailed by some weirdness or another. Being one of the conduits for Cro Cop’s Japan resurgence had to suck, but the big one will always be that Emmanuel Newton spinning backfist KO. Take it away, Whitney.
David: This is my first time watching that video. Give me a second to recover. King Mo was arguably the byproduct of MMA’s fractured talent pool. He didn’t have the skillset like a Gegard Mousasi to walk through the promotional raindrops, and thus, couldn’t build a resume that earned him free agent gold. Again, in part by his own design. The tactical errors in his game (the way he approached his standup, for example) exacerbated the diminishing returns of his role in MMA’s soap opera.
What are the stakes?
Phil: Uhhhh. Redemption for King Mo? Rampage gets to… I don’t know what Rampage wants to do. He doesn’t look like he wants to fight any more. The ESPN interview was a mournful, and I don’t think I necessarily buy Jackson’s take-back.
David: Fight dignity. Rampage already has one foot in the cage coffin if his fight shape is any indication. As for Mo, who knows. Both guys are veritable free spirits, and their experiences in the political domain have been unforgiving at best. Corrosive at worst.
Where do they want it?
Phil: Rampage was once a power wrestler, but has long-since abandoned his grappling, or has put it entirely into reverse. The Rampage who outwrestled and outworked Dan Henderson in one of the most underrated light heavyweight title fights is now basically gone, and the new version plods forward and looks to land short hooks. It’s not a bad matchup for fighting against Mo- Rampage is still relatively difficult to take down, and Mo can’t fight him without entering into his wheelhouse.
David: Even in his prime, Rampage was a blue collar scrapper, at his best when opponents exuberantly engaged his hard nosed style (Liddell, Wand at the end, Hendo). At his worst when even undersized technicians stretched Jackson’s acumen (Bustamante, Lindland, etc). He’s still a solid boxer insofar as he has a good grip of distance, and shot selection. With his earmuff defense, he’s tough to threaten, or pressure, and as a result, he’s a modest counter puncher at times.
Phil: Mo is a pot-shotter. He circles with his hands down, then suddenly leaps forwards with a takedown, or a springing jab or right hand, and then circles off. His need to set up his offense with space has made him a little vulnerable to pressure over time, particularly when combined with his own defense, which isn’t fantastic. Essentially if he gets backed up, he can be crowded into over-committing on counter takedown attempts- witness Cro Cop walking him into the turnbuckle and crushing him. Despite being in decent shape, he also struggles to keep his burst offense consistent. Unless he physically outclasses an opponent, he rarely puts them away past the first round, and has had problems fading in fights.
David: Mo is what Tyron Woodley would look like if he had punch ADHD. He moves too much for his own good, and his obsession with the “Cuban style”, which he’s brought him in past interviews, reveals the problem with his demeanor on the feet. As in, he’s adopted a style that doesn’t suit his talents. Mo has a good left jab he likes to lead with. He alternates between body and head, displaying capable versatility, but his philosophy of being able to punch off pivots and defense just seems to disrupt any rhythm he might otherwise generate. At his best, he’s a little like Gilbert Melendez; using his reach to land effectively and transitioning into takedowns to neutralize counterattacks. Except he’s not effective in these transitions, not because he’s incapable, but because his vulnerability on the feet spotlights his inertia on the ground. He’s heavy on top, but unlike the meta-wrestlers of modern MMA (oops, “meta” is a prefix forbidden in yahoo comments section circles, right?), his ability to position for offense and ground and pound is limited.
Insight from past fights?
Phil: Their last fight was… well, it was terrible, but it did at least demonstrate how well matched they are. Rampage was still able to throw several more shots every time Mo blitzed him, and his heavy-on-the-front-foot style meant that Mo struggled to get in on his hips. However, Rampage is also brutally slow, which meant that Mo got a lot of chances to circle out, then try and take him down again.
David: I’m a little worried that Lawal is entering his Under-Reem phase; a gifted frontrunner increasingly disrupted by pressure attacks. The fight with Mirko Filipovic isn’t an indictment on Mo, per se. CroCop is still a dangerous heavyweight, especially in Japan, where the opposition is easier. But Lawal didn’t seem to have a real gameplan, opting to exchange too often, and wrestle too little, or doing too little with his wrestling I should say.
Phil: Apart from Rampage coming in heavier than most of the high-ranking heavyweights in the UFC do? And publically saying that he regretted ever starting MMA?
David: Does Mo like dragons?
Phil: Rampage is still insanely tough, and Mo often exhausts himself with his own offense. However, at this stage in his career it feels like Jackson might look for a way out. He never really has before, but somehow I feel like we’re in for a weird finish. King Mo by TKO, round 2.
David: I can’t see the TKO. I feel Rampage has the raw toughness and durability to drown Mo in the later rounds, however flaccid the process will be. Quinton Jackson by Decision.