It’s hard to dislike Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as a person and as a fighter. It really is. But you can’t like his decision to emulate Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal by signing a deal to be both a fighter and showman.
Inside the cage he goes for the kill, refusing to go for the safe decision. He’s got some of the sport’s biggest knockouts to his credit and just wants to have a great fight. And if you want to play the ground game he’ll oblige … only to slam you if you give him the opportunity.
Outside the cage he’s a showman, a charming and funny personality who’s indiscretions don’t seem nearly as bad as they should be. We can laugh off his “comedy video” where he advocates chloroforming women or his legendary sexual harassment of female reporters once he starts talking. He’s a genuinely decent human being who just has certain predilections and a charismatic presence enough to make you forget about them.
In a perfect world “Rampage” would’ve lived up to his potential in the UFC instead of merely being another cog in the championship merry-go-round that was the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Instead Quinton Jackson’s UFC career was one of controversy, ending on a three fight losing streak where he was clearly dominated. At the end it was clear “Rampage” was done being an elite fighter and lost in dominating fashion to an up and coming fighter. After losing a title fight and being outclassed in the process to Jon Jones, Jackson walked out of the UFC with his contract expired instead of being cut.
His next step would be an interesting one: Bellator made the least amount of sense, of course, as One FC based out of Asia seemed to be more appropriate for a fighter with a fanbase located heavily in that region due to his Pride days. Jackson can now live out his childhood fantasy of becoming a professional wrestler, get his own reality show and fight in a lesser promotion without nearly as much talent as the UFC. But here’s the thing.
It might’ve been the worst possible scenario for Jackson.
The last time MMA fans saw Jackson he was talking the talk but unable to walk the walk against Teixiera in one of the most watched cards of the year. This was a near shopworn fighter unable to hang with the new crop of contenders in the division, this “Rampage,” and he had nothing left to prove in either the UFC or in MMA. If he wanted to try his hand as a full-time, working actor one imagines he could find himself getting just enough work to stay busy. He may not get the same roles offered as when he was in the UFC but the A-Team film showed he could belong on the big screen.
This is why the Bellator signing is so curious. Jackson, bound to make his debut in a tournament this fall, hasn’t had the requisite ability to stay healthy for significant periods of time in his career as of late. He came into the Bader fight overweight due to a knee injury and has complained about fighting hurt for significant periods of time. Jackson’s in his mid-30s now, usually the time when most pro athletes walk away from competition.
Most people don’t walk into pro wrestling at this age, of course, and fewer who do so make it to the big time and wind up becoming anything of note. The most famous example is Diamond Dallas Page (Page Falkenberg) but he’s the exception, not the rule. Pro wrestling may be fake but its impact on the body is significant, even harder to do than MMA as many fighters who’ve done both have attested to. It’s hard to imagine a world where he manages to stay healthy being a pro wrestler and fighter, especially considering he’ll be asked to step into a tournament format that favors the younger man with two fights in as many months.
Tags: Bellator, Mixed Martial Arts, Quinton Jackson