Friday, January 18, 2013
Rampage: My career doesn’t end with UFC
By Matthew Freeman Special to ESPN.com
Quinton Jackson didn't renew his contract with UFC, but that doesn't mean he's retiring from MMA.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will step into the Octagon on Jan. 26 to face off against Glover Teixeira. It is a clash that pits two of the division’s heaviest punchers in what promises to be a barn burner of a fight and, for Jackson, an opportunity to end his contract with the UFC by beating one of the most highly touted light heavyweights since Jon Jones.
Some may see this as an opportunity for Teixeira to make his name and "retire" Jackson from MMA. But Jackson, the former Pride and UFC champion, has other ideas. He is far from retiring as a fighter and has plans that could see him becoming an even bigger draw both in the sport and the mainstream media. After Jackson made changes to his camp, specifically a new nutritionist, and spent time at the new Wolfslair facility in Wigan, England, his trainers are excited by his current form. Manager Anthony McGann was also vocal about any ideas that Quinton is merely seeing out his contract.
“Quinton is looking like the old Rampage in the gym. Believe me, he is already ahead of the curve in training and is going to be 100 percent for the fight,” said McGann.
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Jackson is as focused as ever on the upcoming bout with Teixeira, leaving all the distractions of home behind to train with head Muay Thai coach Dave Jackson, Bobby Rimmer (Ricky Hatton’s former boxing trainer) and grappling coach Tom Blackledge.
“I’m with Soulmatefood now and they are planning all my nutrition really well. I was with Mike Dolce for a while but I just got tired of him experimenting on me,” Jackson says. “I used to have to cut a lot of weight with that guy. He would give me a lot of bread and Nutella sandwiches. At the time I was loving it, but then I had to pay for it when I had to cut all the weight.”
That, along with a bad knee injury, meant that Jackson's last outing was not the performance he wanted to give his Japanese fans as he dropped a defeat to Ryan Bader. “I got no respect for Bader. I don’t understand guys that just want to hold you down. It’s MMA; I got no problem with takedowns and wrestling, but just holding a guy down ain’t my style.”
That loss to Bader, and the way Jackson felt he was treated afterward, is a major reason why the fighter decided to not renew his contract with the UFC.
“There’re a lot of reasons I’m leaving the UFC, but the straw that broke the camel’s back was that they knew I was injured before the Bader fight. The card wasn’t strong enough for the fans. I didn’t feel I could pull out of the fight because it was in Japan and that’s where I came from. The UFC had all the old Pride fighters busy,” explains Rampage. “They knew they [were] going to Japan but they had Dan Henderson, Shogun [Mauricio Rua], all the guys fighting before. Then they tried not to put me on the card and go to Chicago on a Fox card, and I just couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t use the Pride guys.”
Though Rampage took the responsibility to fight with his injury, he said it was Dana White’s reaction to his loss that pushed Jackson to make his decision to leave.
“Dana said [publicly] my head wasn’t into the fight and he talked some s--- about me even though he knew I had the injury. They’d helped me with the injury. That was the last straw for me.”
Quinton Jackson said he was injured when he fought Ryan Bader in Japan last year.
While "Rampage" Jackson has clearly fallen out of love with the UFC, his MMA career is far from over.
“I’m training better than ever now my knee is fixed. I was fighting with a bum knee for 12 years and it finally gave out on me before the Bader fight. Now I’m getting better, I’m getting faster. I’ve got a good team around me and I’m more positive now so I know this is the next chapter for me. I’m training harder than I have in a long time and I know I’m gonna destroy this guy,” Jackson states calmly. “These next fights are about my legacy. I wanna go out there and destroy some people in MMA and move on and start making movies and TV shows and video games.”
Rampage, then, clearly has a focused plan beyond the UFC and is showing no signs of slowing down. “I got at least 10 more fights in me and I want those fights to be my legacy, but I want to do that in a positive organization.”
However, before any of that, he must first take on Glover Teixeira and show the fans and his detractors that Rampage remains a dangerous threat in the cage. Many are questioning Quinton, citing the fact that he has lost his last two bouts. But, one was a Fight of the Night loss to the champion Jones, while the other saw Jackson injured yet determined to give the Japanese fans a show.
“I’ll fight anybody to get this last fight out of the way. I can’t wait to leave the UFC and have nothing to do with them anymore,” reveals Jackson. “I don’t see Glover as a huge threat or that his skills are so good. He’s pretty tough. I mean, anything can happen in the cage. MMA is unpredictable. My job is to fight and I take chances all the time.”
But Rampage and his team are obviously doing their homework, looking at Glover’s skills and examining key areas. “I am sure he is going to try to take me down. He’s talked all this smack about how he is gonna stand with me, but he’s gonna do what everyone else tries to do and take me down.”
In truth, Jackson doesn’t care what Teixeira is going to try to do.
“I’m going out there to destroy him, and then I’m done with the UFC and I can move on.” In what should be an explosive last Octagon outing for Quinton Jackson -- win, lose or draw -- Rampage is eager to get the job done and look to the future.