Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's hands are not injured, haven't been injured and won't impact him in his bout for the light heavyweight title at UFC 135 on Sept. 24 in Denver against champion Jon Jones.
But there was enough discussion of the state of Jackson's hands that it has led the former champion to suspect he has a spy in his midst.
Spygate has come to the UFC.
Jackson said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Monday that he made up a story about having a hand injury last week. Yet, four hours after he mentioned the story in his gym, he said his manager received a call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva asking about it.
Jackson said he first became wary about a spy in his camp during the days prior to his May 29, 2010, fight at UFC 114 in Las Vegas with Rashad Evans. He said he injured his knee in training, but kept it quiet and let no one know. He was pleased when the injury never found its way into the media.
Yet, Jackson said that during the fight, Evans punched him repeatedly on the injured knee.
"In all my years of fighting, I'd never been punched in the knee before and I never saw anyone punch someone in the knee," Jackson said.
He said that made him wary that someone in his camp had been disloyal. But it wasn't until recently, when he received a message from a fan on Twitter telling him that Jones had a spy in Jackson’s camp, that he began to consider it a possibility. It prompted him to make up the story about the injured hand to see where it would go.
Jackson said that four hours after he first made mention of the supposed injury, Silva, who was attending UFC 134 in Brazil, called his manager, Anthony McGann, to inquire. When McGann assured Silva that Jackson was not injured, he asked where Silva had heard the information.
To Jackson, the response was predictable: Silva said he had gotten a call from Jones' manager Malki Kawa.
"One of my friends was talking to Jon Jones' manager recently, and Jon Jones' manager was saying that he knows everything that is going on in our camp," Jackson said. "He said he had spies in our camp and he knew everything that was going on. That got me thinking.
"How did he know about my hand injury that fast? It wasn't on the Internet, and yet he knew about my hand injury right away. The UFC people were in Brazil, which is why it probably took them four hours to call me. That shows me two things: They have spies in my camp, one, and two, they're dumb as hell, because they didn't know how to use the information correctly and to wait. He called right away, running to Joe Silva. Joe Silva called my manager right away."
Jackson said he was bothered by it because he said he doesn't operate that way and doesn't try to seek out information about any opponent.
"I don't care what Jon Jones is doing, and I don't care what his game plan is," the former UFC light heavyweight champion said. "I have zero care. I still have the honor of a fighter and going into battle the right way, not spying on my opponent. I'm not scared about my opponent, asking a lot of questions or worrying about what he's doing. I don't even watch film."
Kawa vehemently denied having a spy in Jackson's camp, but admitted he called Silva to inquire. Kawa said he had seen a report on Twitter that Jackson was injured, which prompted his call to Silva.
But Kawa was adamant that he was not spying on Jackson, and that the publication of such a report would only negatively impact Jones.
"I promise to God, I have no spy in that camp," Kawa said. "It's completely and totally untrue. There is nothing to it at all. It's funny he said that, though, because we've heard he has had old training partners of Jon coming in to work with him. We don't care and it's kind of hilarious he's doing this. But I can guarantee you there is nothing at all that is true about this other than that I called Joe Silva after someone put out a thing on Twitter that Rampage was injured and pulling out. I wanted to know what was up, but it was no more than that. That is it."
Kawa was once briefly Evans' co-manager, along with Glenn Robinson of Authentic Sports, but Evans was managed by Jervis Cole at the time of his UFC 114 fight with Jackson.
Evans said he hadn't received any information about a Jackson knee injury, but said he kept punching him in the knee because Jackson reacted to it.
"I never heard a thing about it," Evans said of Jackson's knee injury. "I heard him talk about it after the fight. I didn't know about it going into the fight. When I had him against the cage, I kept hitting him in the knee because of how he was reacting, not because anybody told me anything prior.
"When you're in a fight, you just go for what you can get a reaction from. I'd punch him in the toe if I felt it was bothering him. We were leaning against the cage and it was really hard to take him down from there. I really couldn't do much to him and he couldn't do much to me. I wanted to keep the position and so I didn't want the referee to break us. So I had to keep looking busy and I saw it was bothering him, so I kept hitting him in his leg. That was it."
Jackson, though, is convinced there is someone who has been around him who has been leaking information about what he's doing. He said that one day he was working on elbows in camp and the next day, Jones tweeted that he had to start working on elbows.
It could be a coincidence, but Jackson doesn't see it that way. He said he is going to try to get a campaign for his fans to send him messages on his Twitter page telling whether they believe Jones is using a spy. He said he suspects he knows who is leaking the information, but said he wouldn't release the person's identity.
"I don't do that," Jackson said. "That will be between me and him. I would never out him publicly."
He said he feels betrayed, particularly since he says he treats his sparring partners well. But he said he's in his best shape in a long time and ready to shock Jones. Jackson said he weighs 228 pounds more than three weeks from the fight.
He takes the spying issue as a sign of weakness on Jones' part.
"Of course they're going to say they aren't doing it, but we'll put the story out there to the fans and let them decide," Jackson said.
Spying in the fight game is hardly new. In 1987, as Marvelous Marvin Hagler was preparing to fight Sugar Ray Leonard in a major middleweight title match, Leonard sent J.D. Brown to Hagler's camp in Palm Springs, Calif., to spy.
Brown was a matchmaker for Leonard and known to Hagler and his camp. But Brown wore glasses, dyed his hair and got into camp without being noticed. Then, to prove to Leonard that he had inside access, Brown posed as a fan and had a photograph of himself taken with Hagler after Hagler had finished sparring. He brought the photo back to Leonard's camp as proof.
Jackson is brimming with confidence – "I don't care what they see or who they have watching," he said – and vowed he'd take the title from Jones.
"We all know the story about this guy," Jackson said of Jones. "He's going to learn a hard lesson [on Sept. 24]. He'll see."
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