July 18, 2008
We finally tracked down UFC president Dana White for an update on Rampage Jackson's condition. There's still much that is unknown and doctors are far from an official diagnosis. White told Yahoo! Sports that Jackson was initially going to stay in care for 72 hours but that has now been extended.
"I think it's going to be a while before we get him back. I'm talking as a friend. It's a sensitive issue. Rampage, the UFC fighter, who cares about that. We're concerned about Rampage, the human being. What matters is his personal life."
White also talked about some strange circumstances that led up to Jackson's episode Tuesday.
"He was up for four days and he was doing some crazy fasting thing. He was up for four days, drinking water and energy drinks, that was it. It's not good.
White said he knew that as soon as he arrived in Southern California on Tuesday night that something was seriously wrong with Jackson.
"Rampage doesn't do drugs. Rampage really doesn't even drink. This whole thing made no sense to me. (Then) when I got there it made a lot of sense."
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It sounds like the stress of stardom took its toll on Jackson before and after the Forrest Griffin fight.
"As this thing continues to grow and people will get more famous," said White. "Fame isn't easy to deal with. Harder for all the fighter are all the cling-ons. I can't police every fighter. As soon as something goes wrong I'm there and I'll help them."
This will serve as a test case, much like the Chuck Liddell ordeal in 2007. Liddell appeared on a Dallas television morning show and appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Liddell was dozing off on live television. It turned out that Liddell's handlers allowed him to appear on television under the influence of the sleeping aid Lunesta and cold medicine Nyquil.
It's becoming more obvious that UFC needs to educate its fighters and their management teams on crisis management. Other sports have huge support staffs to help their athletes with the media and life management. It doesn't always work as exhibited by the 60+ run-ins with police this offseason amongst NFL players but it certainly couldn't hurt UFC fighters. There are simply too many opportunities in 2008 for fighters to get overwhelmed by fame and money.
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