After a good deal of public lobbying, plus some vocal displeasure in being left out of the lineup, it appears Quinton Jackson will get his wish after all and fight on February 26 when the UFC returns to the Land of the Rising Sun after a decade-long absence for UFC 144.
Though “Rampage” had originally requested Mauricio Rua or Forrest Griffin, and Stephan Bonnar made it a point to mention a possible match-up with Jackson at the event, the 33-year old will instead face Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader inside the familiar confines of Saitama Super Arena.
News of the bout was first reported by ESPN who cited UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta as the source.
Bader is fresh off an opening round knockout of Jason Brilz from UFC 139 and holds an overall record of 13-2 including past wins over Keith Jardine and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Though an accomplished amateur wrestler, “Darth” Bader often turns to the darkside in terms of finishing opponents off with nine of his victories involving some form of stoppage.
The 32-9 Jackson wasn’t quite as fortunate in his last outing, tapping to divisional champion Jon Jones’ Rear-Naked Choke in their title-fight at UFC 135. “Rampage” made a name for himself in MMA during an earlier run in Japan as part of the PRIDE organization before transitioning to the UFC where he’s found success in bouts against Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, and Dan Henderson.
UFC 144 is headlined by Frankie Edgar putting his lightweight belt on the line against Ben Henderson with other expected pairings including Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch, Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon, and Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields.
PHOTO CREDIT – FEG/UFC