He was not a once-in-a-lifetime fighter, but certainly a once-in-a-lifetime character in the world of MMA. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson showed up on Friday night, looked out-of-shape and was beaten by rival Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
In the weeks leading up to the main event fight at Bellator 175, Jackson raised eyebrows with some of his statements. First, he claimed that he thought his bout with Lawal would be a catchweight fight, even though it was scheduled to take place at light heavyweight. On fight night, “Rampage” showed up at 253 pounds, outweighing Lawal (212) by a wide margin. Whether Jackson trained in the last weeks remains a mystery. In the cage, he looked not like a fighter driven by the will to succeed.
Quite the opposite, “Rampage” looked every bit like a 38-year-old veteran who wants nothing more than receiving another pay check. The second statement he made during the lead-up fits this judgment. "I would have to honestly say that my biggest regret is even starting this sport. I think I would’ve lived a different life if I would have stayed home in Memphis and worked at the family business,” Jackson told ESPN. “My dream was to go and be a fighter. But then now when I look back on it, I wish that I just stayed back home with my family.”
Later during Bellator 175’s pre-fight press conference, he revisited the subject explaining that although he felt his original words were taken somewhat out of context, he still felt the same about his answer to the question. “Since I’ve been a fighter, I’ve been screwed out of millions of dollars by managers and people pretending to be friends,” Jackson said. “When I was champion, I had a lot of fake friends around me. And as soon as I lost the belt, where did they go?”
The former All-State high school wrestler out of Tennessee rose to prominence early on in his career. After less than two years fighting for smaller promotions in the United States, Jackson signed for Pride and challenged Kazushi Sakuraba in his first fight in Japan. Although he lost that bout, “Rampage” quickly became a household name in the Japanese MMA scene. He knocked out several opponents and delivered the highlight reels Pride’s management wanted to see.
When later joining the UFC, Jackson continued his run and became the light heavyweight champion by knocking out Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 in 2007. But losses against Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans put a stop to the Rampage hype train. After three more defeats between 2011 and 2013, Jackson left the UFC, joined Bellator, and then re-joined the UFC for one fight, only to be forced to return to Bellator following contractual disputes with the promotion.
The fight on Friday was the last on his contract, and it did not seem like he would be keen to sign a new deal. Over the years, “Rampage” at least retired once and came back a few months later, which happened in 2009. He also provided a piece of television history when he destroyed what looked like a cheap cardboard door on one of the episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights, because he was upset that his team lost almost all bouts against the fighters trained by opposing TUF coach Rashad Evans.
Outside the sport, Jackson made a few appearances as a pro wrestler for TNA, where he feuded with then-planned Bellator 106 opponent Tito Ortiz. And he starred in major movies like The A-Team. Between all of that, “Rampage” never kept very much in the background. Controversial statements and disputes with promoters and other fighters are part of his career just like his funny bits and random nonsense jabber. Look it up, you will find material for days.
That Jackson’s career might end with an underwhelming performance and decision loss against “King Mo”, carrying too much weight and too little muscles, will probably turn into a footnote. “Rampage” did not care anymore, and he is a fighter that would never hide his feeling.