“Only boring people get bored.”—Ruth Burke

In a recent interview with Fighter’s Only Magazine, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson discussed his upcoming UFC Light Heavyweight championship bout versus Jonny “Bones” Jones at UFC 135, and made several interesting statements regarding his perceived direction of the sport, as well as, an open criticism on the quality of the opponents that he has had to face as of late, claiming that he finds the new breed of MMA fighter; “boring.”

“Jon Jones is a tough guy and stuff like that,” said Jackson. “But I’m getting bored with these opponents. Win or lose, I’m getting bored cause these guys got these elaborate gameplans. They want to take me down and wrestle me because they think my ground is suspect.”

Jackson then added that MMA has evolved so fast that “pretty soon we’re going to be like boxing if we keep fighting this way. Nobody is going to want to watch.”

[JR: So, let me try to understand this…MMA, unlike boxing, is constantly evolving, and that somehow translates into the demise of the sport?]

“I don’t care about us going to the ground. Fights end up on the ground. But if this is one of those fights where it’s all I end up doing the whole time is defending takedowns, it makes me look bad as a fighter too.

[JR: Only if you can’t actually defend them.]

“I got fans talking about I haven’t knocked somebody out since Wanderlei. It’s because Wanderlei comes to fight, Chuck comes to fight. These people come to fight, you know what I’m saying? I could have easily gotten knocked out by Chuck or Wanderlei. It’s a risk you take. But those guys—they gained my respect.”

Between the Lines Analysis:

I understand to a certain extent where Jackson is coming from here, and no doubt anyone who follows this sport regularly can easily relate to the pain of having to sit through three (or even five) full rounds of a mind-numbing fight style that is more commonly referred to as “Lay-n-Pray.” It’s terrible.

The issue itself however, has nothing to do with the ground game. The issue, as I see it, has more to do with an inactive ground game.

Rarely will you ever see a jiu-jitsu practitioner take a fight to the ground and not at least attempt to posture and fight for position in order to secure that often times difficult and elusive submission hold. At least they’re trying and staying active throughout the process.

“Lay-n-Pray” on the other hand, is a style of fighting that is more commonly attributed to collegiate wrestlers that transitioned their way into MMA. They have fantastic ground skills but often times lack the confidence (and instinct) as a striker. Many MMA fighters with a strong wrestling base are fantastic at takedowns and at controlling their opponents from the top-mount position. But when it comes to finishing their opponents, many wrestlers just simply lack that ability—at first.

Take UFC newcomer Paul Bradley for instance. When Paul first appeared on the TUF 7 show, he won his first fight by essentially laying on top of his opponent. Needless to say, that did not impress Dana White (or the viewers). Despite the win, Paul was later removed from the show due to a staff infection, and sadly, was never given a second opportunity to fight in the UFC—until now.

The reason?

He needed to improve his overall skillset as a fighter. And now that he has, he’ll be looking to make very short work out of Brazilian fighter, Rafael Natal on August 6 at UFC 133.

So what’s the solution for when a fighter takes his opponent down to the ground and then does nothing except lay on him and whisper sweet nothings in his ear à la Josh Koscheck?

In my opinion the answer is simple—stand them up.

But take it a step further even. If the attempt at inactivity persists, then perhaps a point should be deducted as well.

Too much emphasis is being placed on the takedown in this sport. How many times have you seen a guy get taken down to the mat only to watch him immediately spring back up onto his feet? And yet sadly, the judges tend to only see the takedown and the top position, and in their minds, that’s good enough for the win. And yes, sometimes it is. But not if a fighter is content with using a simple smothering technique to glide his way to victory and in the process, boring the crap out of the fans.

Again, I feel that the solution is to educate the referees (not that they are uneducated, but just so that they are all on the same page), and train them to recognize when a fighter isn’t really fighting to win, as opposed to just trying to control the action enough not to lose.

As for Jackson’s criticisms however, I do feel that on one hand he has a valid point, but on the other hand, I can’t help but to think that he is only trying to make up for his own shortcomings as a one-dimensional fighter. Oh, how times have changed since the old Pride days.

Recently in a press conference, Jackson even began to take an exception to being referred to as old. “I’m only 33-years old,” he argued. But what he failed to recognize, was that it wasn’t his age that was being questioned or labelled, but rather his failure to evolve in a constantly evolving sport.

If all Jackson wants to do is slug it out, might I suggest that he give boxing a try? Or perhaps some old-fashioned, tough guy competitions where kicks, takedowns and submissions are no longer permitted?

Jackson has built a strong reputation for himself as a powerful striker. Meanwhile, eight out of last 11 fights have all gone to the judges’ score cards.

Sure, his other three fights all resulted with Jackson knocking his opponents out, but considering the opponents, they were also one-dimensional, stand-up fighters—Chuck Liddell (now retired), Wanderlei Silva (needs to retire), and Marvin Eastman (has lost eight out of his last 14 fights, has been KO’d in four of them).

Frankly, if anyone is boring the fans, it’s these old school fighters that can no longer compete at a higher level in this sport because they are either too stubborn or too unskilled to evolve as a complete mixed martial artist.

Fans watch because they keep hoping that the exciting fighters of old will show up once again, but the problem is that unless they are matched up against each other, we as fans never get to see these men repeat their glory because frankly, it’s not all that hard to defend against a fighter when you know exactly what he’s going to try to do—not for these youngsters anyway.

Think about the current champions for a second. Do you really believe that any one of them isn’t a fully evolved fighter, willing and capable of fighting from any square inch inside of the Octagon?

Of course they are.

So please do everyone a huge favour, Rampage—stop your incessant complaining, take an actual interest in this sport, learn to evolve, improve your attitude more than anything, and stop sexually harassing female reporters (grow up).

Or retire.

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