All the talk coming into UFC 123 was whether or not Rampage Jackson really wanted to be a fighter anymore, more specifically, if he wanted to be a relevant fighter. He said and did all the right things going into the event.
He said that he was focused and that he was getting into the best possible shape that he could. He said that this was going to be his turnaround. He said a lot of things going in, which is not surprising because he is such a great talker.
Finally, the event came and the time for talk was done and all that was left was the performance.
So how did he look?
All things considered, it was a solid effort from Rampage. He was trying to attack with his devastating punches. He was doing everything that he could to get in Machida's face and bring the fight to him. He got a takedown and landed a couple of really solid punches, including an uppercut near the end of the second that was able to shake Machida a little bit.
After the third round was over and the verdict was rendered, Rampage was declared the victor. He had a couple of different looks on his face.
The first was surprise. It seemed like he believed that Machida would get the judges' decision. When his name was announced as the winner, his eyes nearly popped out of his head.
The second look was a look of relief. Rampage knew what this fight meant to him. He knew he had to win, especially after everything that had happened in the Rashad Evans fight.
Rampage was able to back up his talk and score a victory over a very good fighter. Does this mean that he has fully dedicated himself to MMA once again? I think that the answer to that question will come in his next fight.
We knew that Rampage was going to take this fight seriously. The question is will he continue to motivate himself for the next fight, or will his motivation only come after he has been beaten down?
Hopefully, it's the former, because Rampage is still one of the most entertaining personalities in all of UFC.