Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is set to make what appears to be his final appearance inside the UFC’s famed Octagon on Jan. 26 at UFC on FOX 6.
Standing opposite him in the cage, aiming to usher the former champion from the promotion on a losing note, will be the highly touted prospect (the term prospect feels wrong in this instance), Glover Teixeira.
In recent months…well, years to be more accurate, Rampage has expressed his displeasure with Dana White, the promotion as a whole and the stylistically unfavorable matches he’s been subjected to in his last few fights.
Rampage is apparently tired of fighting wrestlers.
What’s interesting about that, however, is the fact that Jackson has enjoyed plenty of success against solid wrestlers in the past.
Jackson completely schooled powerful wrestler Matt Hamill at UFC 130, outworked Dan Henderson at UFC 75, obliterated Kevin Randleman at Pride 25 and stopped Chuck Liddell (remember that Chuck is a high-caliber wrestler who simply preferred to use his wrestling as a defensive weapon rather than an offensive one) on two separate occasions.
So, what’s the deal with Quinton? My guess is Father Time.
Competing in full-contact competition takes a serious toll on the body. No one, not even Randy Couture, can compete with the elite forever. Jackson’s time as an elite mixed martial artist is winding down, and his behavior indicates serious frustration.
Assuming Quinton does indeed part ways with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, I fully expect his troubles will follow him.
Outside of Bellator, there aren’t many promotions that can meet the demanding price tag that looms over Jackson’s head. Whether he’s lost a step or not, he’s still a very recognizable name, and that name power merits a sizable price tag.
This is a man whose services will not come cheap.
He could opt to head back to Japan, but with the MMA scene in Japan continuously losing steam, there won’t be too many big paydays for him there. Finding marquee fights outside of the U.S. will also prove challenging.
Although, at this point in time, I’m not sure Rampage is interested in meeting anyone of considerable threat inside a cage or ring.
Jackson could make a major gamble and head for the World Series of Fighting, where the unproven Tyrone Spong waits, as does the resurgent Anthony Johnson, but let’s be honest. The WSOF is a fledgling promotion that may very well be defunct by this time next year.
His only serious option, if he decides he’d like to continue fighting for a few more years, is the aforementioned Bellator. And, take note: there isn’t much that Bellator can offer the 13-plus year veteran either.
A fight with "King" Mo Lawal looks intriguing, and given some of the verbal barbs the two have exchanged in the past, it could prove to be an exciting and lucrative fight.
Of course, it should be noted that Lawal presents a similar challenge to those Jackson has expressed displeasure with recently: he’s a strong wrestler capable of grounding Jackson for three rounds.
But even if Quinton took that fight, and (we’ll say for the sake of quality debate) won, what would become of Rampage beyond that pairing?
Bellator’s light heavyweight division is paper thin. A meeting with current Bellator 205-pound ace Christian M’Pumbu doesn’t sound all too intriguing. Fights with Zelg Galesic, Seth Petruzelli, Travis Wiuff and Tim Carpenter don’t offer too much magnetism.
That leaves a bout with the fading Renato "Babalu" Sobral, who’s looked like a shell of his former self over the last three years. And just to be honest, I’m not sure many would clamor to see two fighters well past their prime tangle.
Quinton’s best bet is try to patch things up with the UFC, take a few more fights and aim to exit the sport on a high note with a hefty paycheck in his pocket.
Rampage may not be pleased with his career trajectory as it stands, but if he parts ways with the UFC, he’s going to learn rather quickly that the grass isn’t greener outside of the UFC.
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