UFC about to turn the 'Page on Jackson
March, 13, 2012
By Chuck Mindenhall
Susumu Nagao for ESPN.comWho would have thought a bout with Ryan Bader, left, would undo Quinton Jackson?Quinton Jackson has never been known for his emotional stability. People thought he’d cracked back in 2008 when he was arrested in a hit-and-run situation in Orange County, Calif.. That was after a loss to Forrest Griffin, who hobbled him with leg kicks for five back-and-forth rounds.
Jackson is off the rails again, this time after a loss to Ryan Bader. And now the storm clouds are collecting over Rampage's mood. For the past week, Jackson has been ripping into the UFC, Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva, the latter of whom he said, by the way, should be “shot in the face” for putting him against Bader.
In short, Jackson is making a compelling case to be released by the UFC. A very compelling case, indeed.
Why exactly is he making that case? It’s a lot of fussy complaints that just sort of drift along. He is disgruntled with fighter pay, fighting hurt, fighting through fighting hurt stoically and for not being marketed properly. Those are just the toppings. The real crux? The amount disrespect he’s feeling. That’s the unforgivable part for Jackson, the part that he says has drained from him the love of being a fighter. How could the UFC take a legend in this sport and pit him against a snoozing singlet? How could they be critical of him afterward, given the fact that he was hurt coming in and yet refused on principle to back out?
It’s all very filthy, and he’s purging himself of negative energy via social platforms like Twitter and Bas Rutten.
Rampage’s running refrain through all of this is he’s keeping it real. Just like he was keeping it real when he casually told Fighter’s Only magazine that he was taking testosterone to replenish fallen levels ahead of UFC 144. Doctor’s orders, you know. He was trying to fight through a knee injury that took away from his roadwork that ultimately led to him showing up six pounds over weight at UFC 144. These are factors, not excuses. If the UFC had only bothered to track his every move leading up to the fight -- a fight he signed on for under his own free will -- they’d know this.
But the UFC didn’t, and for as real as Jackson’s keeping it, Dana White’s about to make it as real as it gets. Jackson’s wish to be let go might be granted really soon. In fact, the UFC’s response will come this evening on "UFC Tonight", and if they’re staging it on national television, that might mean for once they are seeing eye-to-eye with him. Or give him his one last fight with Mauricio Rua, which would be generous.
Either way, it looks like Jackson's days are numbered -- which includes his slams, his motor boating antics, his tangents, his ornery streak and his baggage.
And going over the lead-up to this drastic conclusion, the tipping point might have been when Jackson essentially called Dana White a liar.
Earlier this week in New York, White told MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani that the Fighter’s Only story and the TRT quotes were fabrications. He said that Jackson, in essence, told him and Lorenzo Fertitta that those things were never said. Where did this stuff come from, then? White didn’t know -- somebody’s imagination, probably.
Yet a few days later, Rampage reiterated the quotes were accurate to Bas Rutten on Inside MMA. TRT? Yeah, he took it. Why not? He has nothing to hide, and he wanted to be open about it because he didn’t want to be classified as a cheater. The doctors told him to, and now he feels 25 years old again. A prescription is a prescription.
This, of course, makes White look like a liar. Either that, or it makes Rampage appear a little more out on that ledge than we know. Or some combination of both, a case of damage control gone berserk.
For as foolish as it is to chose up sides on the matter, it’s hard not to see the UFC’s. White and Jackson have butted heads a lot over the years. Yet here’s a guy they built a card around, UFC 107 in his native Memphis, only to have Jackson back out to film The A-Team. That one smarted. And remember, they wanted Jackson to fight on FOX, where the marketing machine would have been strongest, but instead granted his wish to fight in Japan. For as many complains as Jackson has, he’s got the gun pointed at his own foot for most.
By this point, the UFC is left with no real choice but to part ways with a disgruntled employee. Stings a little for fans who know the contributions that the former UFC light heavyweight champion has made to the sport over the years, and maybe things could have been fixed with better communication. But Jackson’s wish is to be cut loose is one that the UFC might want to heed.
And when it happens, here’s a hunch that at some point we’ll get to brush off the most shop-worn cliché in the book -- that of being careful what you wish for.