Quinton "Rampage" Jackson may have howled for the last time in the UFC.
At UFC on FOX 6, the former light heavyweight champion lost his third consecutive fight to Glover Teixeira in a bout that served as an eye opener to longtime fans.
The Rampage of old is gone, and he probably isn't coming back. "I don't know if I can compete with the top layer of people anymore," Jackson told Ariel Helwani in a post-fight interview on FUEL TV. "This is my first time losing three fights in a row. I just have a lot of thinking to do."
Jackson is coming off a string of losses to Teixeira, Jon Jones and Ryan Bader.
A loss to a world champion of Jones' caliber is certainly nothing to hang your head on, but losses to Bader and Teixeira have forced Jackson to take a step back and reevaluate his career. He isn't the same guy who took back-to-back wins over world champions Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson.
To think, Jackson was outdueling and defending takedowns from Henderson in a tightly contested 25-minute battle five years ago. Now, he struggles to even make it out of the first round without taking in huge gulps of air.
Teixeira's aggressive and bruising style definitely deserves the brunt of the credit.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect in Jackson's recent performances is his wrestling. As with every aging athlete, his reaction time and explosiveness have decreased dramatically. Most of Teixeira's takedowns were effortless and telegraphed, but they were more than enough to ground Jackson off every attempt.
It has been nearly two years since Jackson won a fight. The bout against Teixeira was the last on his UFC contract, and early speculation indicates he'll be looking for employment elsewhere.
Jackson is unsure whether he'll continue in MMA or try his hand at professional boxing, but he wants to keep competing regardless of his decision. Like longtime heavyweight journeyman Gary Goodridge, he plans on drifting through promotions and taking the most exciting matchups.
He may no longer be a top-tier fighter, but Jackson's legendary name and exciting fighting style still makes him a valuable commodity in free agency.
I'll just be one of those fighters that comes in and psyches the crowd like Gary Goodridge, one of the guys that just comes on and puts on a great show...I'll just go out there and fight and try to entertain the fans. I'll be one of those middle-ranged fighters, and I'm a free agent, if a show wants to pick me up and somebody just wants to put on exciting fights for the fans, then I'm that guy.
I'm not going to give up though. I'm going to go back to the drawing board and work on everything, but I feel like maybe I can come back if I get my mind to it, but right now, if any show picks me up, that's like my marketing pitch, "Hey, I'll come on and put on a great show for you."