LONDON – Spelling isn't Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's forte, he admitted after defeating Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 75 at a sold out O2 Arena.
The UFC's light heavyweight champion added the Pride light heavyweight belt Henderson had owned after a grueling five-round battle, much of which was surprisingly spent on the ground. Two judges scored it 49-46 and the other had it 48-47 for Jackson, who had lost in two previous bids for the Pride belt.
Owning both titles held special significance to Jackson, who spent the bulk of his career fighting in Pride.
"I want to be undisputed," Jackson said. "I can't spell it, but I'm it."
It's U-N-D-I-S-P-U-T-E-D, and Jackson is it in more ways than one. With 44-year-old heavyweight champion Randy Couture always just a fight away from another retirement, Jackson gives the UFC an easy guy to build its marketing base around.
He's got a fan-friendly style, both inside and outside of the octagon. He's the kind of guy you can't help but like and he's the kind of a fighter you'd pay top dollar for a ticket to see.
With Quinton Jackson, it's rarely boring.
And though it wasn't the toe-to-toe slugfest that their styles suggested might have taken place, the fight was, in its own way, as entertaining as it was tactical.
The pace was fast, both on the feet and on the ground and there was always a sense of imminent danger.
Jackson is the naturally bigger man – Henderson has fought much of his career at 185 pounds and still holds the Pride middleweight belt – and he attempted quickly to assert his size and strength advantages.
He raced from the corner and began winging shots at Henderson at the bell. Though Henderson won the first round, Jackson sent a strong message about the type of fight it would be.
The two had been long-time friends, but Henderson grinned when asked if their friendship made it difficult to try to club each other.
"I don't think he thought we were friends when I was throwing those punches at him," Henderson said.
Jackson's shots began to take their toll as the fight progressed, but he survived until the late rounds because of his work on the ground. Henderson is a two-time Olympic wrestler and generally controls most of his opponents when the fight hits the mat.
Jackson at least neutralized Henderson when they were on the ground and credited an unexpected aspect of his game for it.
"A lot of people don't know I've got jiu-jitsu," Jackson said.
He's also got the chance to make some serious cheese, as he calls it. With potential fights against Shogun Rua and maybe Wanderlei Silva looming, Jackson can fulfill one of his goals and become very rich if he keeps performing like he has in his last two outings, when he knocked out Chuck Liddell and then decisioned Henderson.
But with the exchange rate and the failing dollar, Henderson concedes he won't get rich if he stays in London much longer. He enjoyed the three weeks he spent in the U.K. before the fight except for the dent the 2.1-to-1 exchange rate put in his bank account.
"I liked fighting here in the U.K. and I'm looking forward to coming back," Jackson said. "I love the town. You have a lot of beautiful women here. That's always a plus when you go overseas. And the guys are nice. I like the accents.
"I just don't like the money difference. I lose money here, man. It's like I'm giving my money away. That's the only thing I didn't like about this place."
He enjoyed himself Saturday a bit more because both of his training partners, heavyweight Cheick Kongo and light heavyweight Michael Bisping, each won their fights.
Kongo scored a unanimous decision over a fading Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, while Bisping got a controversial split decision victory over Matt Hamill.
When the French-born Kongo was asked a question at the post-fight news conference, he waited for his interpreter to translate the question. But as Kongo looked to his right for the translation, Jackson, to his left, began translating the question in an obvious faux French.
A few minutes later, Jackson said he'd never even consider a move to heavyweight because of the presence of fighters like Kongo.
"When he hits me, I want to quit fighting," Jackson said.
But the hard-hitting Henderson hit him more than a few times on Saturday and Jackson didn't quit. Then again, neither did Henderson.
Henderson is renowned for his great chin and he proved it by taking at least six flush shots to the face.
Jackson said he had a left wrist injury prior to the fight, but said that wasn't causing him problems on Saturday, even though he admitted he was having trouble with his hand.
"The wrist held up OK, but I got me some pain in these knuckles from hitting him upside the head," Jackson said. "He got a rock-hard head."
Jackson showed he has a good head for business Saturday, saying he "wants to whup up on all them folks who whupped on me before."
That was in essence calling out Rua and Silva. And since Silva is expected to fight Liddell in December, expect Jackson to get a shot at revenge against Rua next if Rua gets past Forrest Griffin at UFC 76 on Sept. 22.
It would be a huge fight, helped no doubt by Jackson's willingness to give everything he has, both inside the ring and out.
With Quinton Jackson, it's always an entertaining show.
And that point is undisputed.
For Kevin Iole's match-by-match blog octagonside from London, go here.
- Dan Henderson
- Quinton Jackson