UNDISPUTED Jackson outlasts Henderson to unify 205-Pound Belts
09/08/2007

Thomas Gerbasi Sometimes history can occur in seconds. Tonight, before a sold-out crowd of 16, 235 at the O2 Arena, it took 25 minutes as Quinton Rampage' Jackson became the first man in mixed martial arts history to unify a major title, decisioning Dan Henderson over five hard-fought rounds to defend his UFC light heavyweight championship and take home Henderson's PRIDE 205-pound belt in the process.

By Thomas Gerbasi

LONDON, September 8 Sometimes history can occur in seconds. Tonight, before a sold-out crowd of 16, 235 at the O2 Arena, it took 25 minutes as Quinton Rampage' Jackson became the first man in mixed martial arts history to unify a major title, decisioning Dan Henderson over five hard-fought rounds to defend his UFC light heavyweight championship and take home Henderson's PRIDE 205-pound belt in the process.

"A lot of people don't know that I've got Jiu-Jitsu," said Jackson, whose ability to fight on the ground with the two-time Olympic wrestler may have been the deciding factor in the bout, which was scored 48-47 and 49-46 twice for the native of Memphis, Tennessee.

There was no feeling out process in this one, as Jackson immediately tried swinging for the fences before pushing Henderson to the Octagon's fence. Henderson responded well though, reversing position and scoring with knees to the leg as the two clinched. With 3:30 to go in the round, Henderson worked free and went in for the takedown, putting Jackson on his back and then moving into side control. From there, Henderson again fired away with knees to the leg, and while Jackson looked like he was having difficulty getting free, he suddenly escaped and stood up. Henderson got right back in his foe's face, pushing Rampage' into the fence. The final 30 seconds of the opening frame saw Jackson rebound and land some strikes at close range, but Henderson had the last word with a knee to the head at the bell.

Henderson kept Jackson off balance with foot fakes in the beginning stages of round two, and he eventually made good on his feints with a solid takedown which was followed by his move du jour so far knees. After a stay on the mat, the two rose and battled it out on the fence before Jackson got his own takedown and opened up with point-scoring punches and forearms.

The action was tense early in the third, with both fighters finally letting go with punches at close range. Soon, the bout again went to the mat, with Jackson controlling things from the side. Henderson kept busy though, locking Jackson's left arm briefly until Rampage' was able to power his way out of trouble. Henderson kept his sights on the arm though, and as Jackson looked to escape from the submission attempt, he allowed the PRIDE champion to reverse position and eventually get Jackson's back. But as the two stood and started to trade, the bell intervened.

In round four, Jackson hurt Henderson with a left and followed his foe to the mat. Henderson reacted quickly, going for Jackson's arm. Within seconds, Jackson freed his arm and resumed his attack, but nothing seemed to be hurting the Temecula, California resident. Points were being scored by the UFC champion though, and in a war of attrition like this one, every strike counts. With 1:10 left in the round, a stalemate was reached and referee John McCarthy stood the fighters up, and Jackson pressed forward, scoring with a brief flurry that Henderson eagerly responded to moments before the bell.

With the fight perilously close, Henderson and Jackson traded punches to open up the fifth and final round, with Rampage' jarring Henderson briefly and holding the edge. The long-range bombing ended quickly though and the two champions grappled against the fence. When they emerged from the clinch they traded again, Jackson again getting to the target quicker than Henderson. An ill-advised kick gave Henderson the opening he needed though, and he took Jackson to the mat. On the ground, Henderson controlled matters, but Jackson worked his way up and then returned the favor on his foe, with the two firing away while standing until the fight was over.

With the win, Jackson improves to 30-6. Henderson falls to 22-6.