Don't mess with 'Rampage' Jackson
Story by Anthony Springer Jr
Photo by Chris Cozzone
During a recent teleconference promoting his upcoming bout with “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (29-7) let a reporter know he had no desire to discuss his pending legal troubles.
“If I didn’t want to address it last time, why would I want to address it this time?” Jackson snapped. “This has nothing to do with court, we’re fighting.”
Fighting is something Jackson knows well. His ten year career includes notable victories over Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell (twice) and Ricardo Arona.
After dropping the light heavyweight title to Forrest Griffin last July, “Rampage” defied the odds, exorcising a career demon at UFC 92. Though many were excited to see Jackson face arch rival Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva, few gave the former UFC light heavyweight champion a chance.
Not only did Jackson win, he silenced all of his critics by knocking Silva into the middle of next week with a vicious left hook that earned him “Knockout of the Night Honors.”
“’Rampage’ is back baby,” he said after the fight. “I ain’t going nowhere.”
The new and improved “Rampage” Jackson is bad news for anyone stepping in the path of the Memphis born fighter. A falling out with former trainer Juanito Ibarra led Jackson to a new look on life and a new training home across the pond at Wolfslair—home to Ultimate Fighter winner Michael “The Count” Bisping.
According to Jackson, the no nonsense approach to training attracted him to the camp.
“They train hard… and they have good coaches,” he said. “It’s not the best looking gym you’d ever want to see, but they don’t care about that stuff. All they are about is putting in hard work. It’s the type of place I like to train at.”
In addition to a new coaching staff, Jackson has taken a more holistic approach to training, eating a healthier diet in addition to nutritional supplements. The results, according to Jackson, make for a fighter capable of taking on the world—and winning.
“I never ate well and never took supplements before. I’m 30-years-old now. It makes a big difference.”
If a new training camp and new diet weren’t enough motivation, there’s always the haunting reminder of July 5, 2008. When asked about the unanimous decision loss to Forrest Griffin, Jackson talks about it as though it happened yesterday. It’s a fresh wound in his mind and one he isn’t likely to forget for some time to come.
“After my performance with Forrest— I’ve been so ashamed of myself. Every fight I’m motivated. I’m motivated to go out there, look good and win because I know what kind of fighter I am. I’m really disappointed in myself for allowing myself to not be motivated. There are no more easy fights and I’m looking at every fight as a tough fight.”
If rumblings from UFC president Dana White are any indication, Keith Jardine stands in the way of a Jackson light heavyweight title showdown with current champion “Sugar” Rashad Evans. With title shots—and eventual championships—come extra stardom, which brings in extra money. There’s no animosity between Jackson and Jardine, but the “Dean of Mean” stands in the way of bigger pay days. And in this economy, Jackson won’t stand for that.
“The economy isn’t doing so good right now and I’ve got mouths to feed. This is my job; it’s like going to the office. If I can do it, I’m going to do it.”
Based on the last several years, Jackson has been doing it well. With nothing but tough fights on the horizon for Jackson, who sits near the top of one of MMA’s most stacked divisions, a matchup with the undefeated Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida may not be far off either.
When asked about the man many consider to the division’s number one contender, Jackson lit a fire for a potential bout.
“I think Lyoto is like a weird fighter,” Jackson said. “Kind of boring. I couldn’t imagine fighting him and watching his tapes, he’s boring as hell. He’s good, he’s undefeated, but he’s boring.
“If I was a promoter of a show, I wouldn’t have guys like that fighting for me.”
UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine kicks off next Saturday at 7 p.m. PST.