Pads are popping, the smell of sweat and adrenaline are in the air when in walks a familiar face. The setting was the old Bomb Squad Gym in Hollywood California. The familiar face is none other than Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The animated fighter always entered the gym with two things, a signature style as well as a smile to be in the gym doing what he loves. The warehouse like gym becomes as quiet as a church when the then Pride star walks in to start his sparring session.
Rampage tunes up all of his sparring partners with heavy hands and impressive Muay Thai skills that most MMA fans have not seen from Quinton. On his way out he was always personable joking and laughing and wishing his best to all fighters in the gym. Quinton was a rising star in the Pride organization at that time. Fans loved his style which certainly fit his nickname a fight with him was simply a “Rampage”. Hard wild punches, knees, and some of the most dynamic slams that have ever been displayed in MMA were Quinton’s bread and butter.
Rampage had his most devastating style and wins in the Pride organization with wins over opponents such as Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa (Minowaman), Igor Vovchanchyn, Kevin “The Monster” Randleman, Murilo Bustamante, Chuck Liddell, as well as the slam heard around the world on Ricardo Arona. Rampages crowd pleasing style seemed to come out of a pro wrestling ring mixed with a Mike Tyson fight. Rampage seemed to be unbeatable until he crossed paths with Wanderlai “The Axe Murderer” Silva at the finals of the Middleweight Grand Prix in 2003 where he lost to Silva’s devastating clinch knees to end their fight.
Quinton would lose to Silva’s knees once more in even more shocking fashion at Pride 28. A follow up loss to Silva’s teammate Mauicio “Shogun” Rua again to the Muay Thai clinch knees would send Rampage down once more. Rampage never regained his earlier momentum in Pride due to the owners deciding to sell to the UFC.
Quinton had only one fight since the Pride days in a less than convincing win against Matt Linland when Rampage got the call up to the big show. Many fans wondered if Rampage could return to his earlier glory. A knockout win against earlier foe Marvin Eastman followed by once again besting Chuck Liddell elevated Rampage to the top of the Light-Heavyweight division now standing as champion. His next accolade was adding the Pride Middleweight belt to his waist with a hard fought victory against Prides last Middleweight champion Dan Henderson.
Quinton made his debut as a coach on season 7 of the Ultimate Fighter opposite Forrest Griffin who would challenge for his title after the show was completed. Forrest won the title after winning a disputed decision after using a strategic game plan of leg kicks and counter strike to get the win over Rampage. Rampage bounced back beating Keith Jardine in a unanimous decision win after a tough back and forth tussle. Since his last fight in the UFC Rampage has coached another season of the Ultimate Fighter reality series opposite Rashad Evans.
Evans and Rampage showed extreme dislike for each other and you could see in both fighters’ eyes that they couldn’t wait to get in the octagon and go after the other full force. After the season ended with fans chomping at the bit to see the marquee fight the news quickly broke. Rampage would rather work on the A-Team movie opposite Jessica Biel and others rather than entering the cage. Fans were disappointed and Dana White and Evans were steaming mad that the fight had been scheduled and promoted only for Quinton to back out.
The reoccurring question in Jackson’s career has always been focus. Many perils in Jackson’s career have come with regards to his training and overall planning and focus towards his fight career. Difficulties with his former trainer Juanito Ibarra, felony reckless driving charges, as well as leaving his fight with Evans have fans questioning Rampage. Rampage has also decided to train at the Wolfslair Gym in the UK after leaving his former trainers behind. This decision has also had people wondering why Rampage would go to a gym with limited competition to train for fights.
Personally I would like to see Rampage dedicate himself to training and fighting to return to the days of old when he fought in Pride. His skill set has been limited since entering the UFC mainly focusing on his punches and leaving his other talents aside. Fans would love to see the Rampage of old who slammed, kneed, and punched his way into our hearts.
If Rampage was truly dedicated and reclaimed his Muay Thai and wrestling skills from the past added to his increased punching power he would be a dangerous opponent for anyone in the Light-Heavyweight division. When Rampage returns to the Octagon at UFC 114 against Evans we will see if his focus lies in the cage or elsewhere.