Sometimes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Other times, it just squeaks and squeaks, grating on anyone unlucky enough to be in earshot.
Other times still, the whole wheel comes off after a prolonged state of squeaky disrepair.
These days, coming off a loss and with one foot out the door of the UFC after a very bitter Twitter tirade, it’s hard to see Quinton “Rampage” Jackson as little more than a squeaky wheel in the form of a once-great champion.
For Rampage fans, it’s been a tough transition to sit through, forced to watch a man who was once as dangerous as any in the game turn into a one-dimensional brawler left in the dust by a sport that gives little wiggle room for a man with a one-track mind.
He’s gone from slamming and slugging his way to violent KOs and unifying the PRIDE and UFC titles to bickering with Dana White because wrestlers want to wrestle him for a big win instead of letting him knock them senseless for the sake of excitement.
The game has changed, and Rampage isn’t down with it.
Unfortunately, that attitude has hurt—and will continue to hurt—his legacy as a great in mixed martial arts. There was a time when people loved him for his performances and capacity for carnage, but those people are dwindling. Only the staunchest supporters are still pumping 'Page’s tires, while the vast majority are just tired of his complaining.
He doesn’t like his fights, he doesn’t like the pay, he doesn’t like the fans (unless they’re cheering for him) and he doesn’t like the UFC.
It’s hard to swallow, for most. It's hard to watch a man undo with his mouth what he built with his athletic ability.
There’s hope for a guy who says some stupid things or makes some stupid decisions early on in his career. Look at Nick Diaz, who went from loathed misanthrope early on to wildly popular antihero the more people got to know him. However, with the mileage Jackson has and the fact he’s admittedly closer to the end than the beginning, such actions are damaging.
The closer he is to the finish line, the more Rampage risks leaving a foul taste in the mouth of the MMA community. If this is how he’s going to go out, spouting garbled jabs at a company that has been nothing but supportive of him, it’s likely to overshadow some of his greatest accomplishments.
He won’t be remembered as a great champion, but rather as a great champion who left the promotion after legal troubles, a fake retirement and some outrageous tweets. There will always be that baggage.
All this shows is that the road has been rocky for Jackson in the UFC. Perhaps that unsteady terrain is why this particular wheel is squeaking so much.
The thing about the squeaky wheel is that no one ever remembers its years of service carrying around cargo or passengers; they remember the incessant, annoying squeaking at the end. Nothing else.
That’s not great news for Jackson, or for his legacy.