The days of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson being a UFC fighter have almost come to an end.
The former light heavyweight champion has spoken out several times in the last year about leaving the promotion following the last fight on his contract, which takes place at UFC on Fox 6 against Brazilian Glover Teixeira.
Jackson had been fairly quiet about the subject over the last couple of months while he's been in England training and preparing for the fight, but on Tuesday during a media conference call old wounds opened up.
“I just want to get this last UFC fight out the way and then enjoy myself as a free agent and see who's interested in me,” Jackson stated.
The reasons behind Jackson's displeasure with the UFC go deeper than money or matchmaking, although he's not seemingly happy with either of those items when it comes to dealing with the UFC.
To Jackson it comes down to respect and the treatment of the fighters, and he's not a fan of how the UFC handles either one.
“I feel like they're getting rich off of all of us. We all have surgeries and injuries and stuff like that. Some of these guys can't even afford to pay sparring partners and stuff like that. Some guys fight for $10,000 or $20,000; that ain't right. I don't want to be a part of this sport. I want to go somewhere where they take care of their fighters and they treat us like human beings. I've been fighting for a long time and I'm standing up for myself,” said Jackson.
Recently Jackson also found a new reason to find fault with the UFC when he signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with Reebok and found out that he would not be allowed to wear their gear in the Octagon for his fight on Jan 26. The UFC holds a sponsorship and licensing agreement with all fighters and potential sponsors, and whether Reebok or Jackson conformed or attempted to conform to those rules is unknown.
No matter the reason, however, Jackson isn't happy with the decision.
“I can say I have a new reason – I'm sponsored by Reebok now and the UFC says I'm not allowed to wear Reebok in the cage, when I see other fighters sponsored by Nike and stuff. Why can't I have Reebok? It's just stupid stuff like that,” Jackson said.
“It's not just about money, it's about respect. I step in the Octagon and I put my life on the line, and I try to be an exciting fighter, and I just don't feel appreciated by it. I'd rather take a money cut to go to another show and feel appreciated. It has nothing to do with money. Reebok's still taking care of me, they're still sponsoring me, but the UFC said I can't wear Reebok while I'm fighting, which I think is illegal as well.”
With the fight against Teixeira fulfilling the current contract that Jackson has with the promotion, it appears no matter what happens next Saturday he will test free agency and won't be returning to the UFC unless something dramatic happens.
“They offered a re-negotiated contract, but I didn't like it, I didn't want it. I don't want to renegotiate with them. I think that the UFC don't know how to treat their athletes in my opinion. The fighters, I feel like we do a lot for this sport; I just feel like we're not taken care of well enough,” said Jackson.
“No matter what the outcome is on Jan. 26, I'm going to be happy with everything. I trained very hard. I trained to destroy Glover. I trained every aspect on the ground, wrestling, stand-up, everything. I trained to destroy him and then leave the UFC on a positive note and I'm going to go on with my life and let the UFC be my past.”
As far as what could be next for the former Pride fighter, Jackson isn't sure if it will be MMA, acting or something else that peaks his interest. He hopes to remain in the fight game after recent improvements in his health and training have left him feeling somewhat reinvigorated.
“I've got a few more years in me, my training camp is going really well, and my knee is really strong now. I had some of the best doctors taking care of me, and I did everything right this camp, and I'm feeling really, really strong,” said Jackson
“My next challenge if I go somewhere, I just want to be very exciting. Maybe I want to try some boxing, see if I can do some boxing, or do some kickboxing. My heart is in MMA, I like slamming people and stuff like that. I've done jiu-jitsu tournaments, wrestling tournaments, kickboxing fights, but I have never done boxing, and I think that's probably my biggest challenge to see if I can go and be a pro boxer. Hell, Kimbo Slice he's doing pretty good, why can't I?”
Jackson is very familiar with the former UFC heavyweight having coached him during the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show.
Whether he follows him into boxing remains to be seen, but Jackson seems resolute in his decision to leave the UFC, and he believes it's going to be a mutual parting of the ways.
“Honestly, I'm over it. I gave them time and time again to try and keep me happy, and honestly I think the UFC is happy with me leaving as well,” said Jackson.
“I think it's a mutual thing. I don't think there's nothing they can do to keep me.”