In the build-up to UFC 71, few mixed-martial-arts fans thought Quinton (Rampage) Jackson would ever dethrone (The Iceman) Chuck Liddell.
After a few lackluster performances in previous matches, the word buzzing around the MMA community was that Jackson’s newly-found Christian faith had made him weak. After all, how can someone be a ruthless fighter if they’re taught to turn the other cheek?
If anyone still thinks Jackson’s gone soft, maybe they should talk to Chuck Liddell.
“I want the fans who called me weak because I follow Jesus Christ to look at me now!” Jackson said. “Jesus Christ has made me a stronger individual, not weaker. God don’t make people weaker.
“Christ has helped out my whole life. When you can go into a fight and you’re not worried, it’s a lot of stress off your mind. You don’t need to worry about whether you win or lose; you leave everything up to God. You know that as long as you do your best, everything will be okay. That’s like a load off my shoulders.”
Winning the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship was the biggest moment of Jackson’s storied career. In his eyes, however, he will top that at UFC 75 when he meets Pride Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson in a title unification match. Though the two titles may appear to be for different weight classes, they are both defended at a maximum of 205 lbs.
“Getting the Pride belt will mean more to me (than the UFC title) because I was in Pride for so long and I’ve always felt I deserved it,” Jackson said. “I’ve been wanting it for a long time. I think I was robbed of it twice.”
That’s easier said than done, though, as Henderson is hardly a walking punching bag.
Also the Pride Welterweight Champion, which is defended at 185 lbs., Henderson is the first mixed-martial artists to simultaneously hold major titles in two different weight classes. In his 10 plus years as a fighter, he has never once been knocked out.
With a win over Jackson, Henderson would also become the first fighter to hold both a Pride and UFC title at the same time.
Having both fought in Pride for so many years, the two have actually become very good friends – something they’re both willing to throw out the window once they step into the octagon.
“You prepare for fighting a friend the same way you prepare for fighting any other guy,” Jackson said. “It’s all business because he’ll have no problem hitting me.
“I think he would like to ground and pound me; he punches hard for a 185 pounder. Anyone who’s fought in Pride for seven years and been successful is a tough opponent.”
Though he considers Henderson to be more of a 185 lbs. fighter, Jackson said he won’t be taking him lightly.
“Dan Henderson can expect me to bring 110 per cent to the cage because he’s got that belt and I want it,” Jackson said. “He can expect me to try my hardest to get that title and I definitely don’t want him taking my UFC belt.”