(Updated with comment from UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta at 7:47:42 ET on March 13, 2012)
There is a simple solution to the Quinton "Rampage" Jackson mess that, for some reason, is apparently being overlooked.
The UFC ought to sever ties with its mercurial former light heavyweight champion as quickly and completely as possible.
There is no good being done for any side in this equation by forcing an unhappy Jackson to fight the final bout on his UFC contract.
It certainly won't do Jackson any good to hang around. He's apparently had it with the UFC and has complained about the opponents matchmaker Joe Silva has picked for him to fight, his pay, and the seeming lack of gratitude UFC officials have shown him for fighting while injured.
Speaking to Bas Rutten on HDNet's "Inside MMA," Jackson said he is displeased that the UFC is matching him with wrestlers who don't want to fight. Four of his last five opponents were wrestlers, but there's more to the story than just the UFC putting him in against wrestlers.
On May 29, 2010, he lost to Rashad Evans in a battle for the No. 1 contender's spot at 205. He came back at UFC 123 on Nov. 20, 2010 with a win over karate expert Lyoto Machida in a battle between former champions looking to get back into the mix.
Next up, at UFC 130, was wrestler Matt Hamill on May 28, after a series of potential other opponents fell through. Beating Hamill earned (got?) Jackson a title shot against wrestler Jon Jones at UFC 135 on Sept. 24. After being submitted by Jones, the UFC put Jackson in against wrestler Ryan Bader on Feb. 26 at UFC 144 in Japan.
Jackson missed weight by five pounds in Japan, pointing to a knee injury suffered in training. He could have pulled out, but was so desperate to fight in Japan that he remained on the card. That was his choice, but now we're supposed to shower him with thanks because he did what nearly every one of his peers do every time they compete and went out and fought hurt?
Cutting Jackson would be the wise move for all parties, because Jackson clearly doesn't want to be around, he's no longer a particularly exciting fighter and all the attention being paid to his complaints takes attention away from those who could use it.
UFC owner Lorenzo Fertitta said the company would not cut Jackson and said it would like to match him in the summer with former champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. He said he disagrees with Jackson's complaints, but said "he's entitled to his opinion."
"He has one more fight on his contract and our position is that he's contractually obligated to take a fight and fulfill his obligation, just as he'd expect us to fulfill our obligation," Fertitta told Cagewriter. "He is, to some extent, still a draw. An interesting fight we'd like to make, one we've talked about, would be him and Shogun. I think that would be an interesting fight. They're both coming off a loss, they have a history and they have both expressed interest in the fight in the past. That would round out things in an interesting way."
Jackson did a lot for the UFC and deserves to be recognized for that. His knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 on May 26, 2007 is one of the seminal moments in Zuffa history and won't soon been forgotten. His fight with Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92 was breathtaking.
He was one of the stalwarts of the PRIDE Fighting Championship and should be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame based upon his achievements in the two organizations.
That, though, is for the future. For the present, Jackson is complaining about his lot in life, which is particularly galling considering his recent performances.
It's time UFC president Dana White ended the circus and cut Jackson.
Maybe that will make him happy.
Jackson only wants guys who will engage him in a slugfest and he wants to be hailed as a conquering hero for doing it. So maybe nothing will make him happy, because that's not life in one of the hottest divisions in MMA.
Perhaps Jackson will be energized fighting for Bellator or some other promotion. Perhaps he'll get back to being the fighter he was when he was an absolute can't miss.
It's debatable, but there is one thing that absolutely, unequivocally not:
The fight with Rua would be fascinating, but the time has come for the UFC to sever its ties with him.
- Lorenzo Fertitta