By David J. Cohen
At UFC 86 the main event was the ultimate 205 pound showdown between champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and decorated challenger Forest Griffin. The fight was full of intrigue and ended up full of suspense. And then at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the judges turned into crooked cops and stripped Rampage of his title.
The first round was a tough one to call. Griffin was clearly the better technical fighter but Rampage hit the big hook that took Forest down. It was a toss up between precision and damage. In my book I gave it to Griffin because he was the better fighter throughout the round. His defense after getting taken down was among the best I’ve ever seen.
The second round was the most clear-cut of the fight. Two kicks to the leg and Rampage became the wounded dog. Griffin got him on the ground and proceeded to physically dominate him while looking for the submission. While trying to end it Forrest continued to smother Rampage and hit him in the head. Jackson looked wounded and finished. This is the round that made the judges give Forrest the title.
The third round, in my opinion, is why Griffin shouldn’t be champion. He had the chance to hurt the champ for good. He should’ve picked a moment to go for the leg and wrestle Rampage to the ground. Instead these 5 minutes were basically a light boxing match with Rampage landing the better shots.
The fourth round was the best round for Rampage in the fight. He got Griffin on the ground and was on top for the majority of the round. Griffin locked in a triangle at one point but Rampage lifted him up and if Griffin had held on to the triangle his head would’ve gone through the Octagon. Griffin’s defense was good but he didn’t hurt Rampage at all in the round.
In the final round it was anyone’s fight to take. Griffin as the challenger has to beat the champ to be the champ. He didn’t do it. They fought an even round, and if you go by who was the better fighter in the round Rampage won the round. Strategically the last round was a Rampage round, and in a knotted fight any coin flip round should always go to the defending champion. Thus Rampage should’ve won the round.
That left this fight either as a Rampage victory or a draw if the second round was 10-8. The judges unanimously gave the belt away to Griffin. If a champion in boxing or MMA is to lose their belt they must be beaten. There cannot be any doubt as to whether they lost. Anyone who didn’t see the fight should be able to look at the former champion on the street the next day and see evidence of a beat down. If anyone sees Rampage tomorrow they wouldn’t know he was even in a fight unless he told you. That’s why he should still have the title. Griffin was the better technical fighter and came in with the better strategy. He executed his strategy better. But he didn’t beat Rampage. You can’t strip someone of his title when he stands relatively unharmed at the final bell. Rampage hurt his knee and/or leg during the second round but was recovered by the end of the fight. Griffin had a cut over his eye. Neither fighter was bloodied badly. It was an exchange more than a fight.
This fight was obviously a draw. Neither man was really hurt in the fight. Last time I checked that’s the definition of a draw.
Except in Vegas. I guess that’s why what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Because those judges would be in prison for grand theft anywhere else. '