Sports Other Sports

MMA

‘Rampage’ Jackson always knew he would fight at UFC 186

By Daniel Austin, Calgary Sun

It's been a long, strange trip to UFC 186 in Montreal for Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. (Postmedia Network file photo)

It's been a long, strange trip to UFC 186 in Montreal for Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. (Postmedia Network file photo)

MONTREAL - 

Even compared to the on-and-off relationships many of his contemporaries have had with the UFC, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson’s road to UFC 186 has been full of unlikely twists and turns.

First, he left the UFC. Then, he came back ... until a judge ruled that he couldn’t just break his contract with another company, so he was still gone after all.

Fans were mad, the UFC seemed mad and it was all a mess until he won an appeal and suddenly was back again and sitting in Montreal in the midst of a brutal weight-cut preparing to fight Fabio Maldonado on Saturday night.

“I stayed in the gym, I stayed training because I always felt like I was going to be here,” said Jackson, a former UFC light-heavyweight champion. “Everything happens for a reason but it was very stressful.

“I probably won’t feel any emotions until after the fight or right before the fight. I just wanted to make it for the fans.”

Jackson’s road to returning to the UFC is a long and complicated one, but it essentially boils down to this: He left the UFC in 2013 and signed with rival promotion Bellator. Late last year, he fled Bellator and signed up to fight Maldonado with the UFC. Bellator won an injunction to prevent Jackson from fighting at UFC 186 in early April, so he was pulled from the card. An appeal overturned that ruling, and it was announced this week that he was back on the UFC 186 card.

Other than the most hardcore of the hardcore, fans don’t tend to be overly interested in a fighter’s contract disputes. With Jackson, though, the ruling of the appeal helped salvage what was looking like an especially barren Montreal fight night.

Injuries and suspensions took their toll on a once-deep card, and Jackson was debatably the biggest name the UFC was bringing to Quebec and many fans who had already bought tickets were furious when it was announced that he wouldn’t be fighting.

His fight with Maldonado has potential to be a fight-of-the-night candidate. They’ll be fighting at a 215 lbs. catchweight because the bout wasn’t confirmed until Jackson won his appeal this week, leaving little time for Jackson to cut weight or Maldonado to adjust his preparations from original replacement opponent Steve Bosse.

Both fighters are known for their punching power, and Jackson’s time away from the UFC hasn’t changed his approach.

“I don’t like to watch my opponents’ tapes, I like to be taken by surprise,” Jackson said. “I feel like I’m the definition of a fighter. I’m a brawler, a street fighter. I grew up fighting in the streets, I had to beat up the bullies who tried to bully the kids in my neighbourhood.”

That rock ‘em, sock ‘em approach to MMA has endeared Jackson to fight fans since his time in Japan with the PRIDE organization in the early 2000s. He made his UFC debut back in 2007 and won the light-heavyweight title from Chuck Liddell later that year.

There’ve been ups and downs in the years since, but one thing that’s never changed is the 36-year-old’s affinity for standing in the middle of the octagon and going for the knockout.

When he looks at modern MMA and the new generation of highly-technical fighters climbing the ranks, he sees a landscape that’s desperate for that street-fighting mentality.

“That’s the problem, because of that I don’t watch MMA,” Jackson said. “I only watch a few fighters and I like fighters who bring it and are very exciting. A lot of people just gameplan it out and try to get a decision. This is the sport I love and I don’t even watch it anymore.

“I’m a big fan of the old school guys. You know, the ones who bring it.”

daniel.austin@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/SUNDannyAustin

Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions