5 Reasons Rampage Jackson Should Rethink His Stance on Leaving the UFC
It seems like yesterday that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was coming into the UFC fold; he was one of the first fighters from Pride to make the migration and it looked like he’d be fighting in the Octagon for a very long time.
Now, over five years later, Jackson can’t wait to put as much distance between himself and the UFC as possible; at 34 years old, it would seem the UFC would be an ideal perch for a fighter to enjoy the last years of his career.
He’s sick with all of the limitations he feels the UFC unfairly imposes on its fighters, and he’s tired of losing decisions to fighters who would rather wrestle with him than stand and slug it out.
All that translates to a man who’s tired of losing and when that happens, the man has the choice of elevating his game or finding new surroundings.
It looks like Jackson will chose the latter, and now that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel when he fights Glover Teixeira Saturday at UFC on Fox 6, one begins to wonder if Jackson has given any thought to what his life as a fighter is going to be like outside of the UFC.
For sure, he’s going to experience some changes and here are just a few of them...
Show Me the Money!
Recently, Jackson has been outspoken about how he feels the UFC doesn’t treat its fighters like it should. He made mention of his sponsorship with Reebok and how he is not allowed to wear their name into the cage, while other fighters are allowed to display their sponsorship with Nike.
To be honest, it’s understandable how he would feel slighted; Reebok is no doubt willing to invest a pretty penny on a name like Jackson, but only if its pennies buy it a prominent place on his person.
But how much of Reebok’s interest in Jackson was based on his position as a marquee fighter in the biggest organization in the sport of MMA?
It’s nearly impossible to understand all that happens in the negotiating room, and Jackson isn’t the first fighter to make mention of the point of how the UFC banning certain sponsorships in the cage hurts a fighter's ability to earn.
But once again, will those sponsors be lining up for fighters who are not in the biggest spotlight available?
The UFC is still in the early stages of its partnership with Fox and it will continue to grow, and with that should come more higher pay for fighters and more opportunities for outside monies.
When looking at the amount of money Jackson earns from the UFC alone, it is clear he is near the top of the pay scale. While his argument seems to also be on behalf of other fighters, the gravity of his decision to leave the UFC is going to affect him alone.
I have always thought that the door for sponsorships should swing wide in an attempt to get as many fighters paid as possible, but for now, that is not the case.
Rampage is taking a big risk in leaving (and disparaging) the UFC for smaller promotions who have not, as of yet, proven they can remain financially solvent when times get really tough—and when the UFC takes aim at their next rival, those times are going to come and come hard.
Anyone that has followed the sport and seen how it has grown by now knows that the spotlight that comes with the UFC is huge.
It may have hit some potholes in the road during its first year with Fox, but that didn’t stop Nike from coming aboard and it hasn’t stopped the organization from expanding into new countries such as China.
If Rampage steps into a smaller organization to fight, he is probably going to notice a stark contrast between a UFC show and everyone else.
Yes, Bellator is on Spike and it is growing in small, incremental steps. But the UFC is already beginning to raid its stable of fighters and we’ve seen just how quickly a new and exciting promotion, making some noise and putting on good fights, can quickly be relegated to the status of a UFC farm league.
In fighting outside the UFC, Jackson is going to see the attention he is used to receiving drop drastically and with that usually comes a hit to the pocketbook as well.
Validity of Future Titles
Nothing is as rewarding as winning a title belt, but if Jackson manages to accomplish this in any other organization he’s going to find that any other belt in the sport is not worth as much as a UFC belt, at least in popular opinion.
Even if he and the belt he holds is heavily promoted, he’ll have to constantly deal with the label of a man who’s a champion, but not a UFC champion—and that’s if the fans and media are kind and don’t point out that Jackson had to leave the biggest company in the sport just to win another title.
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than the NFL, and playing in the smaller leagues illustrates the difference.
The Glass Ceiling
No matter what other organization Rampage pledges allegiance to, they are always going to be trying to pull viewership, sponsorship and other monies from the same buffet table as the UFC and that means it's always going to be fighting with the other smaller promotions for the leftovers.
Given that they don’t have the amount of money that is enjoyed by Zuffa, they are only going to be able to pay Rampage a certain amount of money if they want to continue attracting new talent in order to see their promotion survive (and hopefully grow) each year.
To put it simply, Rampage may end up as the biggest fish in a small pond, but the other fish are going to have to be fed as well—and that means Jackson is going to feel the pinch.
Smaller promotions, if they don’t want to go the way of Pride and other companies that fell on hard times and ended up closing their doors, have to adhere to a strict budget and they are only going to have a certain amount of money for their big names.
So then it will become a question of “How much money is the name of Rampage worth?” and the answer is directly correlated to the size of the company. If he’s a Bellator champion, then he makes as much as a Bellator champion, not a UFC champion.
And for someone like Jackson, that is going to be a big difference.
The Uncertainty of the Future...
They always say that it’s not wise to burn your bridges and given the UFC’s track record of consuming other promotions, Jackson could end up learning just how costly it is to make enemies out of the men that run the biggest MMA show in the world.
Jackson has gone out of his way to push any and all buttons he could find in order to get his walking papers and that is something that Dana White will never forget.
He’s broken codes of conduct for the use of social media and he’s attacked the UFC and its fighters on countless subjects with a reckless abandon that displays an utter lack of respect for the company and the men who run it.
So what happens if the UFC ends up buying Bellator or some other organization that employs Jackson?
They could end up releasing him outright or making him toil on the undercards until his contract is fulfilled and then cut him loose.
As it stands now, his future in the sport of MMA is still very much in the air, no matter what company he ends up with, unless he either goes into professional boxing or manages to somehow make peace with Dana White.
And the odds of that are very slim.
But he should seriously take some time to consider the gravity of his situation, especially since he is so close to the end because the grass isn’t going to be greener on the other side of the fence. Given the “scorched earth” policy the UFC has employed in the past, there might not be any grass at all.