UFC 123 is upon mixed martial arts fans and the fighters alike. In an extremely compelling co-main and main event, four former world champions will square off as they take the next steps in their careers.
Matt Hughes and B.J. Penn will do battle one more time to solidify their trilogy in MMA history. While there are no titles or even contender statuses on the line, make no mistake: This fight is one for the ages.
Following their welterweight tilt, two of the world's top light heavyweights will hook them up, and one of them will take one step closer to a shot at regaining their title. With two contrasting styles, Lyoto Machida will square off with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
This is a fight that brings with it many questions and both of these world class fighters are looking to provide the answers as they look to rebound from losses and regain their championship form.
It is with great honor that Hurtsbad.com sat in on the UFC 123 conference call this past Veteran’s Day. A proud day for the UFC as they announced their next Fight For The Troops slated for January of 2011.
While the questions asked were not delivered by Hurtsbad, it is the pleasure of their staff to share some of the answers offered by a legend in this sport such as a man who really needs only one name: “Rampage.”
Great questions were posed to “Page” by some of the most esteemed MMA journalists in the world, and as always, he did not disappoint with his answers. Known for his candor, Jackson provided some great insight into his past, present and future in the game of MMA.
The floor was opened to “Rampage” with an inquiry about what has changed for him since his loss to Rashad Evans in a very high profile match up in May.
“A lot of things have been different. I have been more focused and had a lot of time to train. If you take a long time off not training, your body is going to go into shock when you go into a hard camp. This time my body is doing good, and this time I'm more prepared.”
Jackson has been training at the home of Michael Bisping, The Wolf's Lair, for some time. He was asked why the decision was made to train back in the states for this fight with “The Dragon.”
“I just bought a new house and decided to train right here at my house. I have been traveling a lot and doing movies. Right after the fight with Rashad I went on tour. I just wanted to train and see my family and see my kids. This way I get to see them a couple times a week.”
When asked if being near his family has helped him in preparation for the fight, Jackson gave an amazing response that any father can appreciate.
“It helps the kids out. It’s not always about me, it’s about my kids, they miss me. Sometimes when you spend a lot of time away from your kids they get used to not seeing you. I just want to be close to my kids.”
In the past “Rampage” has been very direct regarding his opinions of his opponent’s fighting style. Calling it boring in the past, he was asked if he views it differently now that he is matched up with the Karate master. He was quick to answer.
“Why would I change because I'm matched up with him, why would I change the way I like his fighting style.”
Seeing Machida’s style as boring, he was asked if he was worried he might feel pressure to keep the fight exciting or force the action.
“I'm not really worried about anything. I’ve trained really hard for this fight in all aspects. The fight is going to go the way it’s going to go and I'm not going to worry. I'm going to fight my fight and not worry about anything Machida does.”
Obviously disappointed about his loss to Rashad, Jackson was asked if all the hype of the A-Team movie, and the buildup before his fight with “Suga” were a distraction or a problem for him. As it would turn out, something unseen to the public eye proved problematic.
“I perform well under pressure. I know the exact reason why I lost that fight. I knew the day I lost that fight before I even stepped into the cage. The day I lost that fight was a couple weeks before it even started. It had nothing to do with the movie tour or anything.”
When asked to elaborate on the issue, he played his cards close to the vest, but he did offer an general explanation of why he fought through undisclosed adversity.
“I would like to keep it personal but sometimes we fight even though we shouldn't. Sometimes we should back out of a fight. But that fight was so delayed and so well promoted that I felt like I owed it to my fans to fight no matter what the outcome was. So I fought.”
And his fans definitely appreciate his perseverance, it exemplifies the type of man and fighter he really is.
Getting back to his take on Machida’s style, he was asked if he had trouble self-motivating for a guy that does not impress him. This is where he not only addressed the question, but elaborated on exactly why he is not impressed as well as explaining his theory of what it takes to be a fighter.
“I’m always prepared for a fight, it’s just how excited I am about fighting a person or not. I’d rather fight people who are going to throw like me and stand and bang like me. That’s a true warrior.”
“Rampage” went into detail.
“A true fighter is like how B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes fight. I like watching guys like that fight. Those other guys, I’m not a fan of them at all. I just feel like I have a fighting spirit, a true warrior spirit.”
“Up in the Octagon you fight, not like boxing where guys go in there to outpoint each other and go for decisions. We are MMA fighters, we are the best athletes in the world and I just feel like I hate to see our sport change into boxing where people aren't even fighting anymore.”
He surely is not alone in that aspect. Just recently Don Frye explained the vast difference between going into a fight not to lose or going into a fight to win. For legends like Don and Quinton from the old school, that is is how this game was made. And surely they would prefer to see their craft stay true to its roots and not watered down by over analyzing everything.
It is a fight after all.
In closing “Rampage” added a little humor with a serious tone regarding a question inquiring what threats he sees Machida posing for him.
“I think that's a bad question to ask a person like me. I would never even say that. I wouldn't even tell my momma the answer to that question.”
In other words, next question!
Overall it was quite a treat to listen in as this great former champion shared his take on various aspects of his career and, of course, his upcoming fight with another former champion, Lyoto Machida.
There is no telling which way this fight will go, but at least fight fans have the ammo they need to look into the thoughts of a true warrior as he prepares for battle against a dangerous foe.
Thank you to Quinton Jackson and the UFC for allowing Hurtsbad.com the unique opportunity to listen in as this man allowed us all a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest light heavyweights the sport has known.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad.com.