Quinton “Rampage” Jackson spent the formative years of his career competing in Japan under the Pride banner and he now holds the country and culture in high regard as a result. That’s why he campaigned tirelessly to get a spot on the UFC 144 fight card, as it will be the first that the UFC has taken to the Land of the Rising Sun since 2000.
Speaking on today’s media conference call, Rampage explained how much it means to him to fight again for a Japanese crowd.
“It’s very important to me personally,” he said. “My kids are from Japan. My kids grandparents are there. They never really watched me fight back in the day. I’ve got a lot of friends in Japan and I really miss the fans, I’m not gonna lie. I really miss fighting there. So, it was something personal for me. My two younger kids can come and watch me fight and the in-laws can be in the crowd and watch me fight. I’ve never had that before.”
His UFC 144 opponent, Ryan Bader, doesn’t feel intimidated by fighting Rampage in what some have called his second home. In Bader’s eyes, he and Jackson will both be getting on a plane, flying for about the same over roughly the same distance to step into a cage set up on foreign soil and fight — the rest of it, the intangible fan factor, is immaterial.
“It’s a big fight. I don’t necessarily feel like I’m stepping into his backyard. He’s popular over there, he’s fought over there a lot, but at the same time, we’re both traveling over there and we’re both gonna be in the Octagon,” said Bader. “His fans and who he’s beat and all that, they’re not gonna be in there with him.”
UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson goes down on February 26 at the Saitama super Arena in Saitama, Japan.