Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has a message for anyone who thinks he’s more movie star than MMA: “I pity the fool.”
The former UFC light-heavyweight champ — who bowed out of the initial showdown with fellow The Ultimate Fighter 10 coach Rashad “Sugar” Evans in December to play B.A. Baracus (Mr. T’s role in the original TV series) — says he’s a fighter first and celebrity second.
“People say I have gone Hollywood,” says Jackson, who will finally face Evans at UFC 114 on May 29 in Las Vegas. “I have been underestimated all through my career. I fight because I am good at it and I knew I could get so good at it, I could buy my mother a car that don’t break down and take care of my family. I didn’t do it so I get free drinks from strangers in bars.”
The colourful Memphis fighter shows little respect for Evans.
“He’s not great. I fought great and I beat great, and he is not great. He can’t take me down, his cardio is crap,” says Jackson (30-7).
“He was huffing and puffing in his last fight in the third round (a decision win over Thiago Silva at UFC 108 in January). He hits like a kid, like all silly swinging his arms. And we all seen that glass jaw. What’s he gonna do? He’s got nothing for me.”
Jackson’s last fight — a decision win over “Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine — was 14 months ago at UFC 96.
But Jackson says he’s not worried about being away from the cage for more than a year.
“I was ring-rusty against Jardine, and I may be in this fight,” admits the 31-year-old.
“That gives Rashad (14-1-1) a teeny-tiny chance. Not a good chance, just a teen-weeny chance. If I had fought more recently, he’d have no chance. He wouldn’t have needed to show up. He’d have fainted in the hotel room and we could have sent the referee with room service to wake his ass up and call that a KO.
“But don’t go crazy and bet money on Rashad. Don’t do that to yourself!”
Jackson also says he’s not bothered by the fact his last opponent, Jardine, is now helping to train Evans.
“What Jardine gonna tell him? ‘Hey, don’t get beat up for three whole rounds?’ Even Rashad can figure out that,” says Jackson, who now trains with Michael “The Count” Bisping in England.
Jackson has his sights on regaining the belt and avenging a pair of losses — vs. newly minted champ Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Forrest Griffin.
“I am happy Shogun won,” Jackson says of Rua dethroning champ Lyoto Machida at UFC 113 in Montreal last weekend.
“Now after I get a nice warm-up fight against Rashad, I get my belt back and pay Shogun back for the nap he gave me. Then I hope Forrest gets back healthy and gets winning some and I will set that one right.
“That would be a good three fights. I will beat Rashad’s ass — or arse as they say in England — then get my belt back with some payback and then I want to retire Forrest.”