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Take Five: Ultimate Fighting Championship 86, Jackson vs. Griffin

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Steve Marcus

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson attends a news conference Thursday at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Neither Jackson nor his opponent Saturday, Forrest Griffin, has fought since September, in part because they served as opposing coaches in “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Jackson vs. Griffin: Weigh In

Watch the weigh in for UFC 86: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson tries to defend his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship against Forrest Griffin. (Length: 1:36)

Fight facts

Principals: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (27-6 mixed martial arts) vs. Forrest Griffin (15-4)

Stakes: Jackson’s UFC light heavyweight championship

Time/site: Today at the Mandalay Bay Events Center; doors open 4:15 p.m., first bout 5 p.m.

Tickets: Near-sellout at $50-$800, (877) 632-7400

TV: Pay-per-view, $44.99-$54.99

Other featured bouts: Patrick Cote (13-4) vs. Ricardo Almeida (9-2), middleweights; Joe Stevenson (33-8) vs. Gleison Tibau (27-4), lightweights; Josh Koscheck (13-2) vs. Chris Lytle (35-15-4), welterweights; Tyson Griffin (11-1) vs. Marcus Aurelio (14-5), lightweights

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Forrest Griffin

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1. The contender

The UFC’s light heavyweight (205-pound) division is known as the organization’s deepest in terms of talent, but Griffin fought his way to leading contender status with a series of solid performances capped by an upset victory against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in September. A betting underdog of better than 3-1 in the fight, Griffin won by third-round submission via a rear naked choke at UFC 76 in Anaheim, Calif. “This is no time to rest on my laurels and say I’ve done all right,” said Griffin, 29. “I’m still in the midst of things. Five or six years down the road I might (say) ‘It was a good run.’ But I’m still getting to the meat of my career here.”

2. TV stars

Neither man has fought since September, in part because they served as opposing coaches in the latest incarnation of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality-competition series on Spike TV. Jackson, who beat Marvin Eastman, Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson in three big 2007 fights, said he welcomed the break. “The layoff won’t impact me at all,” said Jackson, 30. “I needed a layoff. I had three hard training camps last year, and I had a (similar) layoff before I fought Matt Lindland (in 2006), and Matt Lindland is the worst guy to take on off a layoff, and I think I did a pretty good job.”

3. Top shape

Griffin, who figures to attack Jackson relentlessly and work his straight right hands and high kicks, said he likes the way the fight shapes up stylewise. He credited Jackson for his stamina in his victory against Henderson in September, a five-round unanimous decision. “The one thing I thought maybe I could exploit in Jackson was his conditioning,” said Griffin, an Ohio native fighting out of Las Vegas. “But he went five rounds with a guy who wears you out because he clinches so much. I was pretty impressed.”

4. Second defense

Jackson made his name fighting in Japan with the Pride organization before joining the UFC in 2007 and winning the light heavyweight belt with a first-round stoppage of Liddell at UFC 71. With his extensive experience at the sport’s elite level, Jackson said putting his title on the line presents no added pressure. “It’s kind of weird: It’s a fight,” said Jackson, a Memphis native fighting out of Irvine, Calif. “I don’t even think about the title, about me being champion. It’s a fight.”

5. Betting lines

Jackson is a minus-265 favorite (risk $2.65 to win $1) against Griffin in the headliner, reflecting the champ’s strength, stand-up skills and knockout power. Two of the other bouts on the main card also feature clear betting favorites, with Tyson Griffin a minus-360 choice against Aurelio and Koscheck a minus-330 selection against Lytle. Stevenson is listed at minus-220 against Tibau in Nevada sports books that offer UFC action, and in the most evenly matched bout from a betting perspective, Almeida is a minus-120 favorite against Cote. (Odds are subject to change.)

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