Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has always spoken in wistful tones about his time spent competing in Japan under the Pride banner. From the educated audience, to the manner by which the judges scored the fight, it’s easy to tell where Jackson prefers to fight.
That’s why he campaigned so intently for a spot on the UFC 144 fight card, which will see the Ultimate Fighting Championship return to The Land of the Rising Sun for the first time since 1997, bringing its particularly violent road show to Jackson’s old stomping grounds: the Saitama Super Arena. Jackson got his wish and will face Ryan Bader in the UFC 144 co-main event, finally getting his chance to fight for the Japanese fans who have long rallied behind him.
“I’m really excited about going back to Japan, there’s no secret about that,” said Jackson. “I love that place. I think I was so popular in Japan because of my fighting style. You know, I was young, I didn’t care, I just wanted to fight and put on exciting fights for the crowd and they love that type of stuff because pro wrestling is real popular there and I kind of brought that factor to MMA.”
Jackson favors Japan for everything fight-related, right down to the matchmaking. Not wanting to talk bad about his bosses, Rampage won’t say outright that he doesn’t like the matches made by the UFC, but he will talk about how much more savvy the Japanese are than Americans in regards to the fight game in general.
“Honestly, if I gave my thoughts on the matchmaking in the UFC, Joe Silva probably wouldn’t talk to me anymore. So, I’m gonna keep quiet on that. ‘Cause to be honest, I think Pride, the matchmaking set up exciting fights. In America, everybody’s worried about who’s gonna win, this and that. ‘Who’s winning? Who’s winning?’ It ain’t all about that. It’s entertainment at the end of the day,” he said. “The fans, they want to see an entertaining fight and the (Japanese) fans got that. In America, I don’t think we have it yet. We’re still light years behind the Japanese fans and people that watch fights. That’s my opinion.”
UFC 144 goes down on February 26 (25 in the States) from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan and will feature a main event between UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and challenger Ben Henderson.