It’s the most important fight in mixed martial arts history when Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan “Hollywood” Henderson meet on Saturday for a unification bout at the O2 Arena in London.
So what’s the inside scoop on these guys?
Well, for one, regardless of the fear both fighters cause inside the Octagon, outside of the caged fighting pit, both of these guys are fun-loving and down-to-earth fellows.
Take Pride FC middleweight and welterweight champions Henderson for instance.
During training he moves around like just one of the guys as the director of training at Team Quest in Temecula, California, runs the two dozen fighters through warm up drills. Henderson doesn’t demand preferential treatment he demands equality.
When colorful Styrofoam sticks are passed out to each fighter and open war is declared, nobody thinks twice about smacking Henderson like a piñata. In fact, he’s a favorite target.
“Get the toothless Mexican,” is the cry from one of the fighters to attack Henderson.
Up in Big Bear, California, Jackson moves around like a sleepwalker just fitting in among the two dozen warriors assembled. Nary a scream or growl is heard from the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion.
“I never go hard,” says Jackson, who withstands the 105 degree temperatures inside the crowded gym he erected to emulate that of his friend Tito Ortiz. “I just come in here and get my ass whipped.”
No snarls come from Jackson’s lips though at times his playmates can play a little rough.
“Oh it happens some times,” says Jackson about sparring partners trying to make a reputation with sucker punches or extended chokeholds. “I just have to whip their ass to set them straight.”
Training is a necessity but the feared fighter who wears a two-inch thick chain around his neck would rather be playing racing games on his X-Box.
“This is how I relax,” Jackson says while playing video games in his room. “This is also how I like to do interviews.”
Two regular guys that’s what they are.
Henderson goes through drills with the others at the same intensity and listens to the instructor with full attention.
During one-on-one drills it’s quickly apparent that his speed and knowledge of jujitsu and wrestling holds is without peer. He’s like a magician on the ground.
“I expect him to try a toehold or arm bar,” says Jackson. “You never know what Dan Henderson is going to do. Even he don’t know what he’s going to do.”
Juanito Ibarra, who trains Jackson, says his fighter’s ability to impose his strength is one of his biggest weapons. And his punching power.
Ibarra knows about punching power he’s trained many pro boxers including Angel Manfredy before he fought the late Diego Corrales. He knows all about punching power.
“Rampage is pretty unbeatable,” Ibarra says.
After Saturday night a winner will be announced but there are no losers.
“This is the most important fight in MMA history,” said Jason “Mayhem” Miller who trains at Team Quest and who’s provided sparring for Jackson in the past. “No doubt about it.”
When asked about his opponent, Jackson, who often sneers and growls at opponents or fans, looks around to see who’s nearby.
“I like Dan Henderson,” Jackson says. “But I have to kick his ass.”
The fight UFC 75 fight card will be aired on Spike TV at 9 p.m.
New date for Vargas-Mayorga
Main Events announced that the Fernando Vargas-Ricardo Mayorga fight is now scheduled for Nov. 23, at the Staples Center.
Vargas had been ordered by a physician to avoid training because of problems with anemia, but he’s been given the OK to proceed.
Tickets already purchased for the old Sept. 8 date will be honored for the new date.
Abner Mares big test
Abner Mares, a former Mexican Olympian now promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, fights former WBO flyweight titleholder Isidro “Chino” Garcia at the Desert Diamond Casino on Friday Sept. 7 in a bantamweight contest televised on Telefutura.
Mares, a resident of Montebello, is now trained by Nacho Beristain who also trains both Rafael and Juan Manuel Marquez. The Mexico City-based trainer also trains one other Californian promoted by Golden Boy, Vicente Escobedo.
Garcia, 31, holds the IBA flyweight title and is moving up in weight to fight Mares who is moving down a division.
A few people remember Garcia for arriving to a fight as a spectator and filling in for a world title fight challenger. Garcia beat the champion and captured the WBO flyweight title at the Fantasy Springs Casino.
Former participants of the Contender boxing reality show Miguel Espino and Juan De La Rosa are colliding on Sept. 21 at the Doubletree Hotel in Bakersfield. The fight card is promoted by Manny Cota Boxing Promotions.
Espino (16-2-1, 5 KOs) from North Hollywood is defending the WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation middleweight title against De La Rosa (18-2-1, 14 KOs) of Harlingen, Texas.
For tickets or information call (818) 274-7129.
Fight Promoter DVD
A 15-set DVD featuring 20 hours of instruction on how to promote boxing and MMA is now available, says Roy Englebrecht the founder of Fight Promoter University.
The recording features instruction by successful promoters, fighters and attorneys and cost $499. It includes a manual, a Fight Promoter University cap, and a certificate worth $300 off tuition cost of any future sessions.
For information call (949) 760-3131.
Woman champion teaching
Female prizefighter Elizabeth Quevedo is offering personal training to interested people in Southern California.
Quevedo is a four-time U.S. National champion as a welterweight and junior welterweight. She currently fights as a professional and is based in Los Angeles.
For more information contact Quevedo at firstname.lastname@example.org