UFC 144 breakdown: Jackson vs. Bader
Quinton Jackson (32-9) vs. Ryan Bader (13-2)
It will be a Japanese homecoming for the former Pride mainstay "Rampage" as he returns to the sight of his many career highlights for a light-heavyweight showdown against former "The Ultimate Fighter" winner Bader.
Jackson, 33, had his share of triumphs and tribulations in Japan. One of the most accomplished light heavyweights of all time, "Rampage" defeated Igor Vovchanchyn, Kevin Randleman, Murilo Bustamante, Chuck Liddell and Ricardo Arona during the Pride era, while suffering losses to Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Wanderlei Silva and Kazushi Sakuraba.
Jackson made his UFC debut in February 2007, knocking out Liddell yet again to capture the light-heavyweight title in his second UFC fight. During his UFC run, Jackson avenged his losses to Silva, while earning decisions over Dan Henderson, Keith Jardine, Lyoto Machida and Matt Hamill.
Since 2005, Jackson has lost two razor-thin decisions against Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans. He received a shot at light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones in his last bout, succumbing to a submission in the fourth round.
Jackson, from Memphis, Tenn., is an eruptive boxer with a strong wrestling pedigree. His style has toned down since joining the UFC, as he was known for his violent slams in Japan, an element of his game he hopes to revive at UFC 144.
Bader, 28, a product of Xtreme Couture, is a former NCAA Division I wrestler. In December 2008, Bader stopped Vinny Magalhaes to win the eighth season of "The Ultimate Fighter." He went on to win his next four fights, defeating recognizable names like Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jardine, before losing to eventual champion Jones last February.
Bader was submitted by Tito Ortiz in one of the biggest upsets of 2011, but he bounced back with a convincing first-round knockout of Jason Brilz in November.
Bader’s wrestling is his bread and butter, but he isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with seasoned strikers as his boxing has come a long way the past few years.
Jackson is a man on a mission as he hopes to leave the Japanese fans with a memorable highlight. It remains to be seen whether the "Rampage" of old shows up, but he should have his way with Bader, who could make a fatal error by standing and trading with the outspoken former champion.
"Rampage" will time his strikes with the aim of putting Bader to sleep. If his hard left hook finds Bader’s chin, it could be a short night.
Verdict: Jackson via KO, Round 1