CHICAGO – Going into his Bellator 175 main event rematch against Muhammad Lawal, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson said he wanted to knock Lawal out this time around.
Jackson didn’t get his wish, losing to Lawal by unanimous decision.
“He came to fight,” Lawal said. “I had a game plan and he was great.”
Yes, Jackson did fight at Bellator 175 on Friday night at the Allstate Arena. But, did he really fight?
Listening to him at the pre-fight press conference, he sure didn’t sound like the “Rampage” we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Normally he’s cracking jokes and disrespecting whomever he is competing against. This time we saw a person who respected his opponent and was reflective when he clarified the remarks he made to ESPN earlier in the week when Jackson said he regretted getting into the sport.
Then, the former UFC light heavyweight champion weighed-in on Thursday at an absurd 253 pounds – the heaviest Jackson has ever weight before a fight. And it wasn’t 253 pounds of muscle either.
Friday’s fight wasn’t inspiring either.
Jackson did nothing in the first round except land a left hand with about 10 seconds left that grazed Lawal. The extra weight made Jackson slow and Lawal took advantage of it, controlling it in the clinch when the fight was on the feet and taking Jackson down to the mat when he wanted to do so.
The second round looked like it might have been the start of something. Jackson landed a left hook that had Lawal wobbled and he connected on a couple more punches that’d normally finish an opponent.
But the onslaught clearly sapped the out-of-shape Jackson of much of his energy as he came out exhausted to begin the final round. He went for a sloppy takedown and Lawal coasted for the remainder of the round to secure the decision and the fight much to the dismay of the crowd, some of whom felt Jackson had done enough to win.
Bellator president Scott Coker confirmed after the fight to Yahoo Sports it was the last fight on Jackson’s contract and wasn’t too sure if he would be returning to the promotion.
When asked after the fight if he would return to Bellator, Jackson was non-committal, saying that he was going to get drunk, eat pizza and once he gets back to California, he would discuss everything with his manager Tiki Ghosn.
Jackson also admitted to Yahoo Sports that he came in too heavy and wished the fight would have been at light heavyweight.
If he truly felt that way though, why didn’t he tell Bellator that he wanted the fight to be at 205 pounds? By coming in the shape he did and the way he acted during fight week, Jackson showed he didn’t take the fight seriously at all.
Maybe it is time for Jackson to hang up the gloves. What else does he have to prove at this point? He’s won a world championship on MMA’s biggest stage, has enough money for many lifetimes and will go down as one of the greatest light heavyweights of all-time.
He should be embarrassed by the way he performed in front of a Chicago crowd who paid their hard-earned money to see him. They gave him an ovation anyways, cheering him when he came to the cage and on occasion during the fight.
But the adulation was clearly more for what he’d done throughout his career than on the night. Because on Friday, Jackson just went through the motions, collected his paycheck and went out to get drunk and eat pizza.