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Why Rampage Jackson will finish Forrest Griffin early

icfc.jpgNot a particularly bold headline, I guess. However, it’s the week of UFC 86 and there is shockingly very little anticipation for what clearly is the UFC’s biggest main event thus far into 2008.

Perhaps it’s over-saturation of MMA on television? Perhaps it’s the holiday weekend? Or perhaps the economy has finally reached a point that casual MMA fans are cutting back on luxuries, starting with pay-per-view.

Regardless of how the general public feels, I am excited about Saturday’s UFC light heavyweight title match between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Forrest Griffin. Everyone likes seeing stars fight, and Jackson and Griffin are two of the promotion’s biggest stars. No, this fight does not have a grudge angle to it, but the styles of the two could make for some post-July 4 fireworks.

Breaking this down, one area where there could be a decisive advantage is when it comes to staminia. Jackson has been vocal in the past about his dislike for training. Meanwhile, Griffin is one of the hardest working fighters in the world right now.

With so much money at stake, I think it’s safe to assume that Jackson has found the proper motivation needed to get himself into the gym earlier and more often. This is not the same Jackson that fought for PRIDE who would often rely too heavily on his natural physical ability. He’s improved as a fighter since starting to work with Juanito Ibarra and he now has the money needed to operate a proper training camp.

I’m still giving Griffin the advantage when it comes to cardio, but I don’t think the gap will be as big as some might be anticipating.

Griffin also has an edge when it comes to jiu-jitsu. Rampage has good takedowns and slams that are complemented by excellent ground and pound. However, his submissions are lacking, as evidenced by Jackson getting tapped out by several lesser experienced fighters during the taping of the seventh season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

When it comes to ability to absorb punishment, both Jackson and Griffin have world class chins. As such, I see this fight going at least four rounds and possibly five. Because both are able to take a beating, I think that is why we will be treated to an exciting match with momentum changes and near finishes. The crowd at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas will be on their feet several times during the bout, which will create more excitement for the viewer watching at home.

So where does this all leave Jackson, the defending champion? Does he not have any advantages coming into this fight? He most certainly does.

Jackson is clearly the much better wrestler of the two, although Griffin proved against Tito Ortiz that his takedown defense can be impeccable at times. However, Ortiz’s shot is outdated while Jackson’s standup ability means that Griffin can’t just drop his hands, as he must keep them higher in order to protect his face. Griffin almost shut out Ortiz in the takedown department, and while he will certainly stuff some of Jackson’s takedown attempts, Jackson will be successful on a few.

If the fight goes to the ground with Jackson on top, he will need to watch out for submissions from the bottom. However, if he can keep from getting himself caught in a triangle, Jackson will make life very difficult for Griffin through his ground and pound ability. It’s imperative that Griffin utilize good wrist control from the bottom and or body lock Jackson so that he is unable to get off unanswered shots from top position.

Another area where Jackson will have the advantage is the standup. Griffin is not the world’s best defensive fighter. And having a good chin is a great way to make sure you’re around for the end of the fight, but it doesn’t mean you’re neccessarily going to be up on the scorecards. Griffin might also be more of a diverse striker, as I’m sure we will see him throw more kicks than Rampage. But where the difference will be felt is when it comes to punching power. Griffin by no means is a soft puncher, however, he hasn’t traditionally been a one-punch knockout artist. Jackson has shown us in the past that he does indeed possess that power.

While Griffin has a strong chin, he’s not invincible, as he proved during his upset loss against Keith Jardine. Hit him hard enough in the right spot, and he’ll go out like any other man would. While Griffin will be able to score with kicks, I expect Jackson to be able to throw and land more power shots than Griffin.

All things taken into consideration, does Griffin have a chance to become the UFC’s first organic “Ultimate Fighter” television show winner to claim a title? Yes, Matt Serra technically is the first TUF’er to win a world title, but he had already competed in the UFC at the time of his selection of the show. To me, if Griffin wins, he should be viewed as the first TUF alum to take home gold. Griffin most certainly has a shot and it wouldn’t surprise me if he pulled off the upset. That being said, I believe that Jackson is the smart play here. I see him imposing his will and keeping Griffin on the defensive for much of the fight.

As long as it is Jackson dictating the terms of the fight to Griffin, I just can’t see the upset taking place. I see this fight ending late in the fourth round, with Jackson winning via TKO after the referee steps in to call the fight due to Griffin eating too many ground and pound shots on his back.

44 COMMENTS
  • hindsightufuk says:

    nice read, i gotta a feeling for Forrest tho, he’s gonna work his arse off now he’s got this oppurtunity, fuck it whatever its gonna be an awesome fight.
    both of em been out the picture too long

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  • HexRei says:

    Jackson says he hates training, that DOES NOT mean he slacks on it. He usually brings it up as part of a joke, like the time he said “I hate training so I have all this rage against my opponent cause he made my ass get up at 6AM every day” or something to that effect. It’s more him being humorous than a reflection on his work ethic.
    I can think of maybe one or two times in Pride where he seemed to gas (vs Ninja for instance) but mostly the guy has cardio to last the fight.

    Also, I think its kinda silly to bring up him tapping *in training* during TUF season 7 as proof that he lacks in submissions. It just doesn’t really count, because no guy is going to tough out a sub like that in training match and even risk an injury (wouldn’t that just cap off a 10 month layoff nicely), whereas in an actual title fight Page will definitely try to hang in there and tough out a sub like CB’s necktie, and I personally think he might have made it out had he been willing to roll the dice.

    Let’s not forget that Page has fought some world-class MMA grapplers like Bustamonte, Arona, Lindland, the Rua’s, etc and he has only ever been submitted once, by a young Sakuraba early in his career. Griffin’s subs are probably better than Page’s but Page’s sub defense is better than Griffin’s subs.

    I agree with basically the rest of your article and in fact I came to the same conclusion you did (independently… great minds?), Page by TKO in the 4th.

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  • Zack with a ck says:

    I’m thinking there’s no way Forrest gets Rampage in any kind of a position to even attempt a submission. This fight is going to be about standup and the clinch, and Rampage is going to win both of those battles.

    I like Forrest, and I bet he plays this fight safe, but I think he gets overwhelmed by Rampage up against the cage sometime in the first or second round and the ref has to step in and save him.

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  • Mike C. says:

    I doubt cardio will be a factor in this fight whatsoever. Griffen cannot push Jackson as hard as the Hendo fight did.

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  • dunlop says:

    I do not see where people can give the cardio edge to Forrest. I am not saying he is not a hard worker, but he has not gone five (tough) rounds before. Rampage has. Just for that reason alone I think you have to give the advantage to Rampage because he has proved it before.

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  • dongbar says:

    Only way Forrest can win is if he use the muya thai clinch knees like Wanderlei and Mauricio.He is not going to sub,ko by punch or get a decision.Rampage by TKO round 3

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  • Ronin says:

    The only way I see Forrest winning is by a head kick that Rampage didn’t see coming.
    Or if Rampage gets caught in a submission and or if Forrest squeaks out a close decision.

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  • rollshop says:

    “…both Jackson and Griffin have world class chins.” Whoa there sam, Jackson maybe, but Forrest has a world class chin? Really? Did you see him against Jardine? I’d say Forrest might have an average chin at best, but world class? Can’t agree with that buddy.

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  • Jay K. says:

    Ronin,

    In title or Chuck Liddell fights, there never is a close decision. The judges always mark out for the Champ.

    Cecil P. in da House!!

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  • Ram Maramba says:

    Nicely laid out argument Sam, but there are a couple of small points I disagree with. In the end, I agree that Jackson has the tools to come away a winner…

    As far as stamina goes, Jackson proved in his title bout war with Dan Henderson he had the gas to go five frenetic rounds and still have something left in the tank. The pace hardly slowed in that fight and Rampage outworked the smaller but more active Hendo until the end. Griffin’s stamina is touted, but Rampage looked fresher in round 5 of his fight than Griffin in round 3 of the Rua fight. Griffin had nothing behind his punches by the third, including when Shogun was in completely defensive positions.

    As far as chins go both guys are rockheads, but at varying degrees. Anyone can get caught and Jardine’s knockdown of Griffin was just that. Griffin has long proven he can take a punch and Jardine just happened to find the magic button. Rampage has that same button, but his seems a little harder to find. Silva knocked him out their second fight, but he took a Luby’s buffet of knees and soccer kicks in their first bout — as well as in his fight with Rua — without going out. Rocked, sure, but Griffin’s chin wouldn’t hold up to the same abuse.

    A bit nitpicky, but in doing a lot of research on Jackson leading up to this fight I was surprised at how much I underestimated him. He’s one mean sumbitch and may prove to be as durably unbeatable as Anderson Silva…

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  • bjjdenver says:

    I have to agree with the main sentiment here, mainly Ram, Dunlop and Hexrei.

    Forrest is a guy you never count out, but Rampage has proven he has the cardio for 5 rounds of hard fighting, has good sub defense and KO power.

    Adding one more factor in favor of Rampage, along with aforementioned ones, he loves being the champ. I think he really loves holding the belt, getting the attention and achieving the success he has in the UFC, that somewhat eluded him in Pride. Imo, someone is going to have to rip that belt away from him in devastating fashion, and I just don’t think Forrest is that guy.

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  • Two factors that haven’t been mentioned. 1) Griffin is a genetic freak and huge for his weight class. Shogun looked tiny compared to him. In someways, Griffin has an akward style like Tim Sylvia, but much more fluid and balls out. I don’t think Rampage is going to be able to impose his game on Forest. 2) With Xtreme Couture on Forest’s side, he will have an impeccible game plan. In his last two fights, we saw a much more refined Forest clearly with Couture in his ear.

    My perdiction is that you’re going to see Griffin have a great gameplan and do something completely unexpected like take down/GnP and end it in the 4 or 5 round.

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  • HexRei says:

    @#11 Yeah, I think if Griffin has one really solid ace in his deck its Couture helping with his gameplan. That really does throw a monkey wrench into things.

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  • revjames13 says:

    Griffin is like Rudy in this fight, trying to take out a 300 lb. Notre Dame lineman for a spot on the team. Rampage’s only weakness against him is that he might be overconfident (see him guaranteeing that he’s going to lay a good old fashioned ass beating on Forrest.) Forrest is going to need the fight of his life just to make this competitive. There’s a good chance Rampage just goes in there and puts him away decisively in a couple minutes (a la Chuck).

    That said, I think there’s a fairly good chance of Forrest actually having the fight of his life, since he does very well in the underdog position. I see him circling a lot and trying to stay away from any serious exchanges. Rampage will press the tempo and get a takedown, but Forrest will probably stay alive on the ground, at least until the second round. The problem is Forrest doesn’t hit hard enough to mix it up with Rampage once the fight gets in close quarters.

    Griffin’s jits is pretty solid but I don’t think he can sub Rampage unless we wears him down tremendously, and how’s he going to do that if he’s the one on his bicycle all night? Rampage is going to be in great shape, so Forrest is going to need a miracle.

    But I like this kind of fight, since it can bring out the best in an overachieving fighter like Griffin. It then becomes exciting just to see him stay alive, let alone win the fight. I suppose his best chance of taking the belt is to survive the first couple rounds and then eke out a split decision type victory by racking up points on his jab, sub attempts, and the support of the crowd, kind of like when Sugar Ray Leonard beat Hagler by avoiding serious exchanges and flurrying before the end of the round.

    Rampage is a 10 to 1 favorite IMO, but I’m rooting for Forrest to fight out of a tree and keep it close.

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  • ultmma says:

    whoop, whoop I’ll be in fight town USA over the 4th July weekend…. Laughlin, NV lol :)

    Can’t wait to gamble on the fight card in the casino with all the old people and dirty bikers

    War Page winning by KO!!

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  • pitbull17 says:

    @ #10 I really don’t think you can compare Forrest vs. Rua and Jackson vs. Hendo when it comes to cardio, forrest and rua was an all out war that didn’t stop at all, hendo and jackson had some wait and catch your breath moments, that fight with rua would have gassed anybody outside of the 155’s, but i agree with most of the other points, i got rampage winning by ko in the 3rd.

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  • Davey D says:

    Sam, good piece again. I guess you can say there isn’t much hype for this bout. However, we’ve know that this fight was going to happen since November or December, whenever they went public ya’ know. Now that it’s almost here, for me, it’s like a sigh of relief more so than anything and it’s about damn time.

    Come Saturday, all of us will be itching for Buffner’s words of, “Iiiitttt’sssss Tiiiimmmme!!!. Granted, we aren’t hung over from Friday and needed a rest.

    My money is on Rampage here because I am huge fan and have been for a long time. I don’t see him losing in the UFC anytime soon and he looks to have some the best coaching around that work’s for him. It has taken him a while to get here and he ain’t going no where fast.

    Now if Forrest were to win. Although I would be surprised, I won’t be disappointed. He is a very, very hard worker and will have deserved everything he has earned. He would become the first homegrown TUF talent to acheive Championship status and that would be amazing. Matt Serra does but doesn’t count because he had already been in the UFC and his case is a little different.

    I am very much looking forward to this Saturday nights card and it can’t come soon enough. It will be exciting, believe me. I’d like to see a who’s who of MMA stars and/or Celeb’s because it is well worth attending and a great place to get noticed.

    Both Quinton and Forrest (along with the rest) have worked their asses off to get where they are today, give them their respect by attending or tuning in on PPV if you can.

    Cheers!!!

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  • darkmetal says:

    Forrest may indeed use a Randy Couture style of fighting in this match–namely press the action and keep close enough to negate the big looping KO punch via Rampage. If he can constantly press Rampage against the cage and dirty box him while working for takedowns, Rampage might be frustrated by such a gameplan. It seems that Rampage likes fighters like Chuck Liddell who wait for him to storm in punching for the KO. Forrest needs to avoid giving him the room to do so.

    The odds are still very great that Rampage will get off a bomb and it will go off in Forrest’s face, ending it quickly. But we should never underestimate the power of a good gameplan in MMA.

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  • MMAStation says:

    Brain speaking: Rampage should win this fight and I have put money on him winning this fight.

    Gut speaking: I think I am gonna lose my money. Griffin shows over and over he shouldnt be counted out. He is the larger man and can take a beating and still keep fighting.

    I dont want to rule Forrest out, but my wallet wants him to lose.

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  • Vern says:

    This will be the best Griffin fight since Griffin vs Coupon giving chicken.

    Rampage vicious KO rd 1

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  • Ross says:

    “MMA fans are cutting back on luxuries, starting with pay-per-view.”

    I will cut out diapers for my 1yr old before cutting out ppv!

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  • HexRei says:

    @#16 Have you seen Rua’s Pride fights? They were all at least that active, in fact the first round was 10 mins instead of UFC’s 5, and he still never gassed like that. Rua was out of shape for that bout.

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  • ryan says:

    yes yes gamecritic.com i couldnt agree more with any word in the article. forrest is gonna beat rampage jackson for all hard workers with HEART. that is something that nobody has tested on rampage. and when forrest tests rampage, rampage will crumble in defeat. GO FORREST

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  • Chris says:

    This will be a solid fight for sure, regardless though. I mean, Forrest has great cardio and i think he could win because of that if it’s a high paced fight. This is a very solid fight for the fans.

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  • Guy Gaduois says:

    #14, King James . . . we’ll have to agree to disagree, and I disagree with you and history and most of the boxing world, because I don’t believe Leonard beat Hagler; I think it was the worst scoring in the history of boxing. (Now that’s a bold statement.)
    But you did a great job on that post. Good read.

    I stand by Forrest; 2nd round victory, via choke.
    Q will wear Forrest like a sweater for the first 7 minutes of the fight and will get frustrated, put himself in a bad spot, Forrest will capitalize instantly and the man who beat the man who beat Q will get Q and that nice belt.

    Query – is Forrest still with Extreme Couture? He wasn’t in the EC gym on that preview video that was posted here last week? I know Randy picked Forrest to win, but is he training at Couture’s?

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  • joe says:

    since when does Forrest have good BJJ? I never seen him submit anyone? And he has absolutly no chin. Did anyone see him get KTFO’d by Jeremy Horn’s leg kick besides to Mr Clean Jardean? And cardio? he never went 5. Rampage looked like he could do 7 rounds with Hendo

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  • HexRei says:

    @# 26 joe Says:
    July 1st, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    since when does Forrest have good BJJ? I never seen him submit anyone? And he has absolutly no chin. Did anyone see him get KTFO’d by Jeremy Horn’s leg kick besides to Mr Clean Jardean? And cardio? he never went 5. Rampage looked like he could do 7 rounds with Hendo

    I’m kinda surprised you brought up his KO from Horn in IFC but ignored his beautiful triangle choke on Chael Sonnen in the same org just a few months apart. As a matter of fact he has over twice as many subs wins as KO’s and subs account for ~50% of his wins including decisions.

    Griffin’s jitz has always been one of his major strengths, he’s just played it down since the TUF show, I think because it became so obvious that the unwashed masses wanted a sprawl n brawl.

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  • HexRei says:

    lol, correction, sonnen and horn the same night.

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  • I like Forrest’s chances against Quinton. What will work in his favor is the fact that he has trained with Wanderlei Silva – who has beaten Quinton not once, but twice. So you know Wanderlei’s spilling the beans…giving up the trade secrets, so to speak. No prediction here except to say that Griffin willl have the title after his fight at UFC 86.

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  • jeff the drunk says:

    “perhaps the economy has finally reached a point that casual MMA fans are cutting back on luxuries, starting with pay-per-view.”
    actually, i started with ufc 85. when $44.95 can just about fill up my car, i unfortunately had to opt for the fill up instead of ufc85 & now 86. had to choose between ufc86 & affliction because there’s no way i can afford both this month. the economy is circling the drain, ppv buys will suffer if they haven’t already.

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  • Nate says:

    Rampage needs to win for 1 reason: He is the funniest guy in the sport, and Forrest cant beat his humor. So until someone more entertaining comes along, he is going to be king.

    The man is hilarious. Have you seen his quotes online?
    Interview before his rematch against Chuck Liddell:
    Question: “Chuck said in his pre-fight interview it’s gonna be a first round knockout. What do you have to say about that?”
    Rampage: “If he plans on getting knocked out in the first round that’s his business.”

    On the MMA crowds in Japan:
    “In Japan, the crowd is quiet, this one time I heard a cute girl fart in the second row.”

    As far as who is going to win.. I dont think either has an advantage. Forrest does have 7 sub wins vs 3 TKO, and he has only lost by knockout. So his JJ is better than his standup. It’s either forrest by submission or Rampage Jackson by “ass whoppin”

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  • Nate says:

    I am not sure why the Affliction fight was brought up on this article.. but I dont see how any hard core fan is going to miss that fight.
    When was the last time you saw more than 3 fighters with previous UFC or Pride title holders in one night?

    Affliction has —> 6 previous title holders!! six!
    Fedor “Cyborg” Emelianenko
    Tim Sylvia
    Victor Belfort
    Andrei Arlovski
    Josh Barnett (he beat Randy Couture to get it.. though it was stripped later)
    honorable title: Matt “the LAW” Lindland (he has a freaking Olympic silver medal)
    (and none of them are washed up over 40 guys, like Ken Shamrock… he needs to retire)

    PLUS, it has these other names that everyone knows.
    Antônio Rogério Nogueira (only 1 loss to knockout, the guy is a machine)
    Aleksander Emelianenko (I love when he KO’d Josh “idiot” Thompson)
    Renato “Babalu” Sobral
    Pedro Rizzo

    ANYONE calling themselves fans.. who has watched mma on youtube, online, and old Pride FC videos… would know all those guys. If you like the fighters is personal, but you would have to respect their skills.

    Even the less popular fighters on the card are known. Vernon White (lost to many good fighters), Matt Whitehead, and Paul Buentello.

    It is just crazy talk to say you are going to miss it. CRAZY I say.

    NOTE: Newbies excluded from all logic, I dont see how they can appreciate this card.

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  • Scotty says:

    “what clearly is the UFC’s biggest main event thus far into 2008.”

    Silva vs Henderson was bigger than this. Sylvia vs Nogueira too.

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  • Scotty says:

    lol @ Nate acting like he’s a hardcore fan and then calling him “Victor” Belfort.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a noob, so you can stop pretending you aren’t. ;-)

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  • Nate says:

    bleh Scotty.
    You got me. I spell Emelianenko, Babalu, Nogueria, Buentello, etc. correctly, but not the easy one. It is 1am.

    He does deserve respect tho, so Vitor Belfort it is.

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  • HexRei says:

    # 31 Nate Says:
    When was the last time you saw more than 3 fighters with previous UFC or Pride title holders in one night?

    I believe that would be UFC 82 which featured Arlovski, Tanner, Silva, and Henderson. About three months ago. However, I see your point and I am definitely planning on watching both shows that night. We live in the digital age folks, if you are a true MMA fan you have no excuse to not watch both events!

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  • MoreThanUFC says:

    Saying Forrest has a world class chin… come on. And submissions? The only person to sub Rampage was Saku, and that was forever ago, and that was when they made Rampage cut an additional 5 lbs after he had already dropped 20. And cardio? Wasnt Rampage still peaking in the fifth vs Henderson?

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  • Kelvin says:

    Forrest does not have a world class chin…

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  • MMA SKOOL™ says:

    “very little anticipation” …perhaps because its a weak card.

    Tyson Griffin vs. Marcus Aurelio is the 2nd best fight on the card?

    This event is also sandwiched in-between UFC 84, which was stacked with interesting fights, and Affliction “Banned” and Fight Night 14.

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  • mike wolfe says:

    Griffin has a legendary chin. Take that, ttt.

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  • Rich S. says:

    Forrest KNOWS he doesn’t want to strike with Rampage.. rephrase: he doesn’t want to BRAWL with Rampage.. if he can pull off a Forrest/Ramirez [In which Forrest basically went all Muhammid Ali on Hector Ramirez] on Rampage, he can win the stand-up.. and i have no doubt that if he’s not just getting totally battered on the ground.. he can pull out the sub.. but he better be ready to get slammed.. he’ll have to choke out Rampage.. cause i don’t that he’s going to tap from some [sarcasm] measly arm-break [/sarcasm]. There’s certain guys in this business that just won’t tap.. and i know Rampage has tapped before.. but.. now, he has a belt.. and he’ll do WHATEVER HE HAS TO DO to keep it.. even if that means fighting with broken limbs..

    i want Forrest to win SOOOOO BADLY.. but everytime i think about Rampage in the ring with Forrest, i just cringed.. i mean, Rampage just dismantled the UFC’s #1 striker [Chuck Liddell] in 2 minutes.. and dominated Dan Freakin’ Henderson.. and that’s ASIDE FROM all the crazy crap he did in Japan with PRIDE.. when you just take the time to watch a Rampage HL or something.. you start to feel that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for Forrest to win.. but.. i’m just praying..

    Forrest via Submission [RNC] 3r

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  • sved says:

    I think Griffin will showcase some new strategies and techniques that will surprise or befuddle Quinton’s Jacksons best laid plans

    In other words…my heart is w/ Rampage

    but my Bets w/ Forrest!

    expect the unexpected

    and hope that both are injury free after the match is done!

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  • Dude you keep going one way and then the other, you obviously don’t know these two fighters and change your damn title if you want anything of what you said to make sense:

    Why Rampage Jackson will finish Forrest Griffin early As such, I see this fight going at least four rounds and possibly five. Because both are able to take a beating

    Ya… that really explains the summory of your prediction which all it is at best. Jackson does not have a big chin like you claim either, when he gets clocked good, he buckles up. Forrest on the other hand takes a beating and able to keep going strong.

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  • as stated… Stinky calls it… wobbles Jackson a number of times and Griffin took a beating very well when hit and wins decision. You suck Sam, Stinky knows best and remember it.

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