Quinton “Rampage” Jackson stepped into the octagon in UFC 135 against Jon Jones with more than twice as many wins as the young fighter. Yet, despite his experience, Jackson left the octagon a loser Saturday night. In the post-fight interview, he admitted to not following his game plan, saying he was “mesmerized” by Jones.
Jackson’s strategy to beat the long-limbed Jones involved using good head movement and staying close to his opponent. With his strong background in wrestling, he could have tried to fight Jones on the ground. Instead, he spent much of the night recovering from Jones’ punches.
Why didn’t Jackson take the fight to the ground? “Basically, I choked,” he said after the match. While an elbow to the head in the first round couldn’t have helped, analysts agreed that Rampage should have stayed focused and stuck with his fighting strategy.
In Jackson’s pre-match interview, he had claimed to be in the best shape of his life, physically ready to take on the younger Jones. However, perhaps influenced by the hype surrounding Jones or all the talk between the two fighters before UFC 135, Jackson simply did not perform up to his capabilities.
Jackson’s loss is a prime example of the importance of mental skills. Read up on how to mentally prepare yourself.