The UFC just got a Rampage-sized upset last Saturday night.
In just 1:52 of the very first round, the recent trend of upsets continued inside the world famous octagon. After two years of complete domination, Chuck Liddell's invincibility as the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion came into a crashing end at the hands of the last man who defeated him: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
All it took was one counter right hook from Jackson that had Liddell hit the canvas, where Jackson preceded to knock out Liddell with elbows and hammerfists until referee Big John McCarthy ended the fight. And with that Jackson ended one of the most anticipated fights in recent memory in just under two minutes.
"Chuck was right, he said somebody is going to get knocked out in first. It happened." said Jackson. Of course none of the almost 20,000 pro-Chuck fans would have thought that it would be Liddell being on the receiving end of that prediction.
Jackson did not look like the same man who looked very uneasy and nervous in his UFC 67 debut earlier this year. While he defeated Marvin Eastman via 2nd Round TKO at UFC 67, many wondered whether Jackson still had that killer instinct. That instinct that carried him through an impressive stint in the now Zuffa-owned PRIDE FC, racking up wins over Kevin Randleman and Ricardo Arona.
Others pointed to his losses to Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua that caused Jackson, a now born again Christian; to lose that killer instinct. Many said that he lost his confidence in those losses and played it safe from then on. From the uninspiring decision win over Murilo "Ninja" Rua to a very close split decision win over Matt Lindland in the now defunct WFA, it was only a matter of time for Quinton Jackson to rise again.
The time was Saturday night at UFC 71. "I trained really hard man." said Jackson. Booed once he entered the octagon, Rampage looked focus and determined to dethrone Liddell.
As the bell rung, the two paced around the octagon and went through a feeling out process. Liddell throwing out the jab as Jackson attempted to cut off the cage. At the 1:31 mark Jackson proceded to wave to Liddell to fight, and from there the unpredictable happened. With Liddell attempting a left hook to the body and leaving his face open, Jackson countered with the "perfect" punch right into the jaw of the Iceman.
And just like that, the landscape of the UFC Light Heavyweight Division completely did a 180. There was a new Light Heavyweight Champion, and it was Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. But a new challenger awaits for Rampage as earlier in the evening Mike Goldberg announced the signing of Dan "Hollywood" Henderson. Hendo, the current Pride Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champion; will be Quinton's first title defense.
"Chuck's my friend, Quinton's my friend but it's a business," Henderson said. "It's time for the best to fight the best."
Amongst all the media frenzy of the upset, no one can deny that Liddell's run as champion will go as one of the most dominating runs in UFC history. From his four victories over Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz, his reign as champion came with four title defenses all won by either KO or TKO. Yet, the year of upsets continued with Liddell's loss.
Like all great champions of the past there is no doubt that Chuck Liddell will be back. "I made a mistake and he capitalized on it," Liddell said. "Nothing's changed. All it does is makes me want to go back to the gym and train harder."
The only question remains that if Rampage does makes his first title defense later in the year, will he also be bit by the "upset" bug. Will Rampage do what Chuck has done in the division for the last two years? Or will he be like Georges St. Pierre and lose his first title defense?
"Man, I can't let no 185 chump beat me," said Jackson. "All it's going to make me do is train harder than I did for this fight, I want that paper!"
CREDIT FOR QUOTES: MMAWEEKLY.COM