By now, most UFC fans have heard that former light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has recently announced that he will no longer fight in the UFC or anywhere else. A rift between UFC president Dana White and Jackson was caused by Jackson’s decision to accept a movie role in the “A-Team” movie set for release in 2010. Jackson’s participation with the movie caused him to withdraw from a fight against nemesis Rashad Evans scheduled to take place in December in Jackson’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Evans and Jackson are currently coaching against each other on the tenth edition of The Ultimate Fighter series. Jackson’s decision to take the movie role caused problems with the UFC and their plans for the remainder of 2009 which prompted White to make disparaging comments about Jackson’s decision to be an actor.
In an interview with Michael Pepper of MMABay.com, Jackson addressed his fans and provided more details about his decision to quit fighting. “Everybody knows I’m doing this A-Team movie and now I’ve got a lot of other movie offers and it’s for big money. So I’m thinking, ‘What should I do? Should I let an organization disrespect me, tell me what I can’t do, make loads of money off me and call me a baby?’ I love the fans. I really do love the fans and I’m thinking, ‘Should I go out there and give them what they wanna see?’ The fans buy the Pay-Per-Views, they give you the strength to go out there and put on a show because their cheering for you but I’ve grown to like making movies. This movie is really fun, I get to shoot people and that something I’ve never done before because I’m too nice of a guy. But every time I shoot somebody I see Rashad’s face over and over, like I get to shoot Rashad thousands of times and it’s fun. I get to beat people up. I can put anybody’s face on them and beat the hell out of them”
The timing for Jackson’s decision couldn’t be worse for the UFC. The current TUF season was developed in part to promote the heated rivalry between former champions Evans and Jackson. As of now, the show will end in December and the coaches will not face off. Jackson has not been shy about voicing his disdain for Evans, saying, “He talks smack and he tries to turn around on how it’s me that’s the one who’s talking smack and not him. At first I really wanted this fight to get my belt back but since doing “The Ultimate Fighter” show and six weeks of him talking the way he’s talking and him just being the way he is, yeah it makes me wanna fight Rashad, especially after he said he’d punch me in the face for free. I’m having none of that either.”
While some fighters speak of their love for training, Jackson has been open in the past about how he doesn’t enjoy being in the gym and being away from his family. Jackson trains at the Wolfslair Academy in the United Kingdom while his family lives in the US. Jackson continued, “People are coming up to me with all these other movies and I’m thinking, ‘Man, do I really wanna bust my ass in training every day, have all these injuries, worries about whether I look good and whether I’m going to win?’ I don’t have that with the movies, I already know what’s gonna happen, it’s scripted so there’s just no worries. At the end of the day I go home, I can just kick back and enjoy myself. But I can’t lie, my heart is with fighting. When I meet my good fans on the street and they say, ‘Oh man, you’re the reason why I got into the UFC’ or I see a fan wearing my t-shirt it, means a lot to me. It means a lot to me that the fans like me and my fighting style and I really respect that. That’s a part of fighting that would keep me there and keep me motivated.”
“I want the fans to know that I’m not abandoning you just because of the comments from Dana White or the UFC. Don’t think that I’m running away or selling out because the main reason I got into fighting is to make money, I’ve always been honest about that. I want to take care of my family cos my Mom and Dad never really had a whole lot. they’ve never really gone nowhere. I want them to go on vacation to Hawaii, and do what normal people do on vacation. I want my Mom to have a nice house, a nice car, wear nice dresses and never have to worry about anything like that. Whether you guys know it or not I’ve always wanted to do movies, but I know fighting is what got me there and I’ve still got love for my fans.”
Jackson does appear to leave a door open for the possibility of his return to the UFC. “The only thing I can tell you fans is everybody knows I’m a spiritual person and I have to leave it up to my heavenly father. I’m gonna pray to him and ask him what role he wants me to take, what road he wants me to go. He’s the one that’s given me all the skills that I have. For Dana to say that I’m not a movie star and that he’s heard it before, I don’t think there’s been someone like me. So I’m going to pray to my Father who gave me these skills and see where he wants me to go and leave it up to him. If he wants me to fight and do movies or just do movies or just fight then he’ll direct me. I’m gonna put everything in his hands.”
The many fans of “Rampage” Jackson are anxiously awaiting to hear which road Jackson ultimately chooses.