|Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. (Photo courtesy of UFC)
He has no belt and has yet to set foot in the UFC Octagon.
Still, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson commands the respect and adoration normally reserved for champions.
Jackson, for all his lack of North American exposure, has one distinction no other fighter on Earth can lay claim to: An unavenged victory over UFC light-heavyweight champ Chuck 'The Iceman' Liddell.
"Everyone keeps talking about that so I guess it's pretty special," says Jackson, who with gold tooth caps and a rumble chain around his neck, looks more like a member of 50 Cent's entourage than a martial artist.
The former Pride star is on a collision course with the Iceman. It's the main reason he was brought in by UFC president Dana White. And when the showdown takes place, Jackson is certain he will once again have his hand raised -- this time, with a championship belt for good measure.
"Chuck's another day at the office for me," says the Memphis native, who at 28 has amassed a 25-6 mixed-martial arts record and a legion of fiercely devoted fans.
"I train my butt off and I'll take it to him like I took it to him the first time."
In Pride: Final Conflict 2003, Jackson scored a second round TKO due to strikes over Liddell. Liddell has avenged the two other blemishes on his 20-3 record, but the loss to Jackson has gnawed at him for the past three-and-a-half years.
But before Jackson gets his shot at Liddell, he must avenge a loss of his own.
He'll make his UFC debut Feb. 3 against Marvin 'Beastman' Eastman -- who beat Jackson when the two last fought in July of 2000.
"Back then I didn't know anything. I remember getting my butt kicked," says Jackson, who has been training in Big Bear with Tito Ortiz
"It was my first professional fight. Now I have better standup, better cardio, I'm more focused and I've had more than 30 fights. Hopefully Marvin Eastman comes ready to battle."
Randy 'The Natural' Couture announced this week he is coming out of retirement. The 43-year-old -- who hung up the gloves after his second straight loss to Liddell last February -- will move back to the heavyweight class and take on champ Tim Sylvia on March 3. Couture signed a four-fight deal.
Pride has announced its second North American tilt which will feature Wanderlei Silva against Dan Henderson. It will take place Feb. 24 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas.
Pride heavyweight champ Fedor Emelianenko has no plans to join the parade of top fighters leaving the Japanese fight club for the UFC. Pride reports the Russian -- considered by many experts the best heavyweight in mixed-martial arts -- has signed a contract extension. No terms were available.
Alberta prison guard Jason 'The Athlete' MacDonald has earned himself a top-billing fight. MacDonald will take on former middleweight champ Rich 'Ace' Franklin at UFC 68: The Uprising on March 3. MacDonald has been impressive in his two UFC fights choking out Chris 'The Crippler' Leben and submitting Ed 'Short Fuse' Herman. This will be Franklin's first fight since losing his belt in a lopsided scrap against Anderson 'Spider' Silva in October. The fight will take place in Franklin's home state of Ohio.
The welterweight championship scrap between champ Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra will likely take place in April. St. Pierre was forced to pull out of the Feb. 3 card after injuring his knee in training.
Rashad Evans will take his unblemished 9-0 record into the Octagon against Sean Salmon on Jan. 25. The fight will headline SPIKE-TV's Ultimate Fight Night. In the co-features, Spencer 'The King' Fisher will fight Hermes Franca and middleweight contender Dean Lister will take on Nate Marquardt.
For more on the UFC and mixed martial arts, check out The Scrapyard blog at www.calgarysun.com