Las Vegas, NV - UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones is undoubtedly the fastest-rising star in the sport of mixed martial arts. Since bursting onto the scene in 2008, the 23-year-old New Yorker has steamrolled through the UFC’s talented 205-pound division, finishing opponents with his unmatched blend of unorthodox striking and vice-grip-like submissions. On Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., Jones’ meteoric rise faces imminent danger, as “Bones” will makes his first title defense against former UFC and PRIDE champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced the colossal 205-pound title bout, as well as an outstanding 170-pound clash between former welterweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes and The Ultimate Fighter season one winner Diego Sanchez. If that wasn’t enough, UFC’s return to the Mile High City will feature a tremendous heavyweight battle pitting knockout artist Travis Browne against British finisher Rob Broughton, as well as an electric lightweight bout between The Ultimate Fighter season five winner Nate Diaz and Japanese standout Tanakori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi.
“Many people think that Jon Jones should be considered one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world, but I wouldn’t make that claim too fast,” UFC President Dana White said. “The 205-pound division is and always has been the most stacked division in MMA. Rampage Jackson has been one of the top five light heavyweights in the world since 2003. A win over Rampage Jackson will definitely put Jon Jones on the right track for becoming the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.”
After capturing the UFC light heavyweight crown by stopping Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in March, Jon Jones (fighting out of Endicott, N.Y.) makes his first title defense in Denver when he meets Rampage Jackson. At 13-1, the 23-year-old Team Jackson fighter owns wins over the likes of Stephan Bonnar, Vladimir Matyushenko and Ryan Bader. Despite his impressive resume, “Bones” believes a win over Jackson would truly cement his place as one of the world’s most dominant fighters.
Fighting Rampage Jackson is an awesome opportunity and a win is definitely something that could add to my legacy as champion,” Jones said. “I think he’s re-motivated and that makes him dangerous. He’s driving me to a different level of training right now. I’m training like a champion so that I can go in there on Sept. 24 and perform like a champion.”
With his bone-crushing power and seek-and-destroy mentality, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (fighting out of Irvine, Calif.) owns victories over some of the sport’s all-time greats, including Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell. While his opponent on Sept. 24 appears to be heading toward a similarly historic career, Jackson (32-8) looks to end Jones’ surge when the two battle for the title at Pepsi Center. Simply put, Jackson believes it’s his time to once again reign over arguably the most stacked division in the UFC.
“I am planning on bringing the belt back to where it belongs,” Jackson said. “That belt is very serious and very dear to me. That belt should never have been taken off of me, and it’s been a long time coming to get my chance to get my belt back. The proudest thing I’ve done in my career is unify that title with the PRIDE FC title, and in the next fight it was taken off me despite me winning the fight. I’ve had to wait since 2008 to get my chance to get my belt back, but anything that comes easy isn’t worth having in the first place.”
UFC Hall of Famer and welterweight great Matt Hughes (fighting out of Hillsboro, Ill.) steps inside the Octagon this fall in search of another signature win to add to his storied career. The 37-year-old former champion gets that opportunity when he meets the hard-charging Diego Sanchez (fighting out of Albuquerque, N.M.). Winner of season one of The Ultimate Fighter, the 29-year-old Sanchez has developed a reputation for being a gritty, hard-nosed fighter with deceiving power and high-level grappling. Riding back-to-back wins since returning to the welterweight division Sanchez (25-4) looks for his third consecutive victory when he meets the legendary Hughes (46-8).
Fresh off a Knockout of the Night performance at UFC 130 in May, undefeated heavyweight Travis “Hapa” Browne (fighting out of San Diego, Calif.) looks for his third victory in the UFC when he meets versatile English fighter Rob Broughton (fighting out of Liverpool, England). The 6’7” Browne (11-0-1) trains alongside UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz and rising light heavyweight Phil Davis in San Diego and is considered a future heavyweight contender. He’ll face a stern test in Broughton (15-5-1), a Wolfslair product with 11 wins by way of stoppage.
UFC 135 features a sure-fire barnburner when The Ultimate Fighter season five winner Nate Diaz (fighting out of Stockton, Calif.) takes on Japanese standout Tanakori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi (fighting out of Tokyo, Japan) in lightweight action. The 26-year-old Diaz (13-7), younger brother of welterweight standout Nick Diaz, has scored victories over Marcus Davis, Melvin Guillard and Kurt Pellegrino in his career. His opponent, former PRIDE star Gomi (32-7, 1 NC), is known for his stunning power and holds notable wins over the likes of Tyson Griffin, Tatsuya Kawijiri and Marcus Aurelio.