This weekend’s loss to Glover Teixeira may be Quinton “Rampage” Jackson‘s final appearance in UFC. The fight was the final one of Jackson’s contract, so now the question becomes whether he’ll re-sign or look to see if Bellator or One FC wants to be in the “Rampage” business. The other possibility to consider is that this could be the last time we see Jackson active in mixed martial arts.
Whether or not Jackson retires, this does seem like a good enough time to reflect on the career of one of MMA‘s funner personalities.
When history has its say about Jackson, it will likely agree with something my friend told me when we were talking prior to this past Saturday’s card. He said, “Pride was the only place for a guy like Rampage…he was the kind of guy who wanted to fight. He didn’t really want to do MMA.” For the most part, that statement rings true, especially the part about Pride.
Pride Fighting Championships was the promotion that helped create the man MMA fans know as Rampage. It was the promotion where Jackson excelled greatly and created a name for himself within the sport. It’s the promotion where Jackson had some of his most famous wins and losses; such fights include his KO wins over Yuki Ishikawa and Kevin Randleman, his two KO losses to Wanderlei Silva, and forcing Chuck Liddell‘s corner to throw in the towel in the 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix semifinals.
Most of all, it was in Pride where Rampage executed a powerbomb on Ricardo Arona and knocked him out in the process. This is the moment, even more than his KO of Wanderlei in UFC, that will define Rampage’s MMA career as well as the moment for which he will forever be remembered in the sport.
The legacy of Rampage as a whole will be as one of the better pure brawlers in the sport’s history. He is of a breed that may never fully exist again in the sport. Nowadays, incoming fighters are taught (rightfully so) that they need to learn a little something about everything in order to survive. Rampage had a good ground game and used it, but he was a brawler through and through. He welcomed the opportunity for any bout to turn into a slugfest, to become a toe-to-toe affair out of nowhere. Sometimes he won and sometimes he lost, but he lived by that approach for basically his entire career and did achieve success along the way.
Jackson ended up being somewhere in the middle when it came to whether he was an example of someone from Pride that came to UFC and did good or someone who came and did bad. Rampage won the UFC light heavyweight title, dethroning Liddell at a time when Liddell had a Mike Tyson-like aura inside the cage, he unified that title with Pride’s in beating Dan Henderson, and he got revenge on Wanderlei all inside the octagon. On the flip side, Jackson has gone 3-4 since losing the title in 2008 and more and more has been fading into the sunset with each passing fight.
The last couple of years for Jackson has been a time where most of his best jawing has been at Dana White or outside of competition. And when he has been in the cage, the words are not backed up through actions the way they used to be. Instead, it’s been Rampage being Rampaged by opponents like Jon Jones and Ryan Bader. It also hasn’t helped that Jackson hasn’t been showing up to fights in shape as was the case against Rashad Evans and against Bader last year in Japan. Both of those performances were particularly ugly from a man who used to be so entertaining and compelling as a fighter.
Whatever the end may be, Jackson made his legacy in the sport before he even signed with UFC. His successes there served to enhance the legacy he had already made, and his failures provided the fall from the top that all fighters face at the end of their careers. Sad it is, but that is life in the fight game.