The speculation is over. According to an announcement through the UFC’s website, newly crowned divisional king Jon Jones will defend his championship for the first time against former 205-pound title-holder Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on September 22 at UFC 135 as had been rumored in the weeks following Jackson’s win over Matt Hamill at UFC 130.
Though the pairing seemed to be foregone conclusion given Jackson’s performance against Hamill, talk of a pre-existing hand injury made worse in the bout had left the door open for Lyoto Machida to potentially slide into the top contender’s slot based on the amount of recovery time attached to the affliction. However, today’s confirmation seems to indicate “Rampage” was in better condition than he originally suspected and will be ready to go this fall in Denver.
Jones’ initial appearance as promotional champ will not only have him battling an apt adversary in the form of Jackson but history as well with Machida’s questionable decision over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 104 involving the single successful defense of the light heavyweight belt in nearly four years.
That being said, the challenge at hand isn’t likely to faze the 23-year old champion who has gone 13-1 in his career with the lone loss coming in what was almost certainly another win before Jones got carried away and delivered an illegal elbow rendering his opponent unable to continue. “Bones” has finished all four of his opponents since the defeat including his recent title-winning TKO of Rua in March and a submission of then-undefeated Ryan Bader in his previous appearance.
The September scrap fulfills a dream of Jackson’s who has hungered for another crack at the UFC belt since dropping it in a close fight with Forrest Griffin at UFC 86 less than three months after Jones made his professional debut. Jackson is coming off back-to-back wins over Hamill and Machida and owns an overall record of 32-8 with in-ring success against some of the sport’s biggest stars like Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, and Dan Henderson.
The pairing of Jones and Jackson is set to headline a UFC 135 card already featuring Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto vs. Damacio Page, Ben Rothwell vs. Mark Hunt, and Matt Hughes vs. Diego Sanchez.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC