Lorenzo Fertitta has told ESPN.com that Rampage Jackson will indeed get his wish to fight at UFC 144 in Japan, and his opponent will be young prospect Ryan Bader. While many were clamoring for fan-favorite Stephan Bonnar via various social media channels, Bader was ultimately announced to be opposite Jackson come February 26, 2012.
While Jackson presents issues on the feet for the still-green Bader, it will likely be the ground where this fight is won or lost for the former light heavyweight champ. He has struggled with top wrestlers like Dan Henderson and Jon Jones, and Bader certainly is no slouch with his all-American ASU collegiate background. To offset a smothering on the mat, it’ll be critical that Rampage trains plenty on escapes and working in the clinch prior to this match. We’ve seen him be more effective against grapplers in the Octagon when he’s stated that this was an important part his camp.
After the scrap’s over, I see Jackson with his hand raised with a TKO victory. Experience will ultimately be what leads him to success against Bader. Ryan’s weakness in countering fast-paced offense has doomed him in the past, as we saw with him against now-champ Jon Jones. I don’t see this changing soon enough for him to escape the power of Rampage.