Why 'Rampage' Jackson turned down a role in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'

Before Ronda Rousey had crossover success in the worlds of mixed martial arts and Hollywood, there was Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The former UFC light heavyweight champion, who will return to fighting after a one-year layoff when he faces Satoshi Ishii at Bellator 157 on June 24, has seen his fair share of success as an actor as well as a MMA fighter.

After having a prominent role in 2010’s “The A-Team” remake as B.A. Baracus, Rampage could have thrust himself into Hollywood’s arms and tried to balance a career in both. However, the 38-year-old explains that fighters who try to juggle two two careers will likely find themselves failing at one of them.

“There’s no way you can do both at the same time,” Jackson told Yahoo Sports. “You can’t train for a fight and shoot a movie. Your focus has to be on that fight.”

As a fighter who tried to walk the tightrope, albeit briefly, perhaps he can understand the challenges that Rousey has had better than most. Some have suggested that she has lost the desire to fight now that she’s had a taste of Hollywood and others blamed her desire to be a movie star as the reason she was knocked out by Holly Holm last November. Jackson may not entirely agree with that assessment because he knows what it’s like to try and dabble elsewhere, only to need to recalibrate and regain focus on what got him here in the first place: fighting.

Rampage says that today he feels better than ever and is fully committed to fighting because nothing matches the adrenaline rush of competing in the cage.

“Acting isn’t real but fighting is real,” Jackson said. “I love acting but when you knock somebody you get this high that you can’t get anywhere else. I’ve tried to reproduce that adrenaline rush when I drive my car or I do something to try to scare myself, but you can’t get it anywhere else besides kicking somebody’s ass in the cage.”

Jackson recently revealed that he turned down a role in 2009’s "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" because he needed to focus on a fight and didn’t want to end up losing because his attention was elsewhere.

“ 'The Wolverine' offer was a pretty good but fighting is my day job,” Jackson said before explaining how trying to divide his focus between acting and training cost him in a big fight. “It just came at a bad time. It’s the story of my life. 'The A-Team' came at a bad time as well and I took the time off instead of preparing for Rashad Evans and I paid the price for it.”

Jackson says that he’s still interested in doing movies but he certainly won’t allow it to affect his training. He’s fully engaged in his upcoming fight with Ishii, a 2008 Judo gold medalist for Japan, and despite claims earlier in his career that he’d retire by the age of 35, there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight for the 16-year veteran.

“I was supposed to be old at 35, but my body is not telling me that I’m old," Jackson said. "And what would I do if I retired? My trainers are retired and old as dirt but now they wish they were fighting again. I’m thinking that I don’t want to be old like them and mad because I retired too early.”