If Quinton Jackson never fought again after his last fight with Keith Jardine, it's safe to say he would have gone down as a legend in the sport of mixed martial arts.
For awhile, it looked as if the fight with Jardine was indeed Jackson's swan song in the sport.
Last September, he wrote on his Web site that he was finished with fighting and the UFC due to mistreatment from the organization. This was after facing two felony and four misdemeanor charges that stemmed from a July 15, 2008 incident in which Jackson struck a pregnant woman with his vehicle.
In December, Jackson said he would return to fight out his contract with the UFC, and Dana White announced in March that he had signed Jackson to a new six-fight deal with the company.
All legal and personal problems now seem to be in his past. Can Jackson regain the form he has shown in the past and return to the dominant fighter he was in PRIDE and early in his UFC career, or is he just a shell of his former self?
The answer to the question may lie in his opponent, Rashad Evans. Evans could very well be the man to motivate Jackson enough to get him back to the ruthless aggressor that had fans around the world chanting the name, "Rampage."
Jackson has always performed his best when motivated, and when he feels he has something to prove.
He came into his fights with Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson with a lot to prove, and he showed his greatness by knocking out Liddell and winning a marathon match against Henderson.
Even Henderson thought that Jackson has never been better than in their fight in Sept. 2007.
"Rampage I think came into that fight in the best shape of his life," Henderson said when asked about Jackson. "If he can become rededicated to fighting, there's no reason why he can't be champion again."
Things began to fall apart for Jackson after his meeting with Henderson. He was pegged to be a coach against Forrest Griffin on The Ultimate Fighter. However, Jackson showed very little interest in the series, and many bashed him for his lack of coaching skills.
Jackson continued to show a lack of interest when he fought Griffin for his UFC light-heavyweight title in July, 2008. Although some had Jackson winning the fight, Griffin won the bout in the eyes of the judges and won the title. Regardless of who fans may have thought won the fight, most agreed that it wasn't the same Rampage that they had come to know over the years.
He regained some of his old form when he faced Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92 when he knocked out his long-time foe. The determination and focus he had going into the Silva fight is exactly what he needs going into his bout with Evans.
Jackson and Evans grew to hate each other when they were opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. The two went face-to-face inside the Octagon after Jackson won his fight with Jardine, and it seemed like they would come to blows at any moment.
The two will finally be able to trade blows almost 15 months after their infamous meeting after the UFC 96 main event.
Evans has nearly as much to prove in the fight as Jackson. After beating Griffin for the Light-heavyweight title he won from Jackson, Evans lost it in his first title defense against Lyoto Machida. After his own uninspiring follow-up performance against Thiago Silva, he needs to show the UFC and his fans that he can still compete and win against the very best in the sport.
Jackson has the talent to be the best fighter in the division. His personality gives him appeal as a cross-over star as evident by his upcoming role as B.A. Baracus in A-Team movie.
To once again be the face of the UFC light-heavyweight division, Jackson needs to stop fighting so much like Quinton and more like Rampage. If he's able to do that, everyone may be witnessing only the surface of what he can accomplish in MMA.
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