Last night, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson dropped a bombshell when he informally announced his retirement from MMA. No, this is not a joke. Rampage announced his retirement from fighting in the latest blog entry on his website. His twitter and myspace entries back up the notion that this post is for real. Despite Rampage’s announcement, I’m convinced that he’ll be back inside the Octagon again.
Rampage’s blog entry is a lengthy one, detailing a long list of issues he has had with the management of the UFC. According to the blog entry, Rampage feels that the UFC has done a lot of things that upset him.
He states that the UFC management:
-Pushed him too early into his rematch against Chuck Liddell
-Didn’t tell him he might be fighting Dan Henderson until they announced it to the public
-Didn’t recognize him as a unified UFC/Pride Champ after beating Henderson
-Didn’t give him the immediate rematch he wanted after a close fight with Forrest Griffin, instead offering a -dangerous fight with Wanderlei Silva
-Pressured him to fight too soon against Keith Jardine
-Tricked him into coaching TUF against Rashad Evans when he would have preferred to have fought Lyoto -Machida for the title instead of fighting Rashad
-Damaged his acting career with open criticism and false statements about his latest movie project.
That’s a pretty long list of complaints, but I think that this perspective is one that is influenced by his current state of mind. I think that after taking some time to think over the situation and talk to the UFC management once again, Rampage will change his mind and return to fighting.
Other fighters have left the UFC with much larger grievances only to return at a later date.
A few years back, Randy Couture left the UFC stating that he felt disrespected and under-appreciated by the organization. Eventually he came back to the UFC to fight Brock Lesnar, and just signed a new seven fight contract with the UFC before his fight with Minotauro Nogueira.
Tito Ortiz’s feud with Dana White has been well-documented. In interviews, Tito said that Dana White had frequently manipulated him and his public image. He also stated that Dana White frequently interfered with his ambitions outside of the realm of fighting, be it with endorsements or acting aspirations.
It seemed like Tito would finally be gone from the UFC for good after his loss to Lyoto Machida. On frequent occasion Tito had testified that his UFC career was at an end. Dana White also professed pleasure in finally being “out of the Tito Ortiz business.” Nevertheless,the two recently reconciled, and Tito is currently training for his comeback fight against Mark Coleman.
The latest fighter returning to the UFC may be Roger “El Matador” Huerta. Huerta finished his contract with the UFC with his fight against Gray Maynard. Huerta had announced in January that he would be leaving the UFC to pursue acting.
Despite those intentions, Sherdog.com is reporting that Huerta has had a change of heart. Apparently the heat of competition against Maynard stoked Huerta’s competitive fires. He’s now stating that he is willing to put his fight career as his top priority if he can get a new fight contract.
With Couture, Huerta, and Ortiz we have three fighters who have had bitter exchanges with the UFC but now two of them are back in the fold, while Huerta’s return seems imminent.
These three fighters also have a lot of other things in common. Like Rampage, these three fighters are charismatic and marketable fighters who have had acting ambitions, among other ambitions outside the Octagon.
They’ve had varying degrees of success, but even Couture, who has been the most successful as an actor, now seems happy to continue fighting.
One of the reasons for their returns must be that these fighters are not just fighting for money. I truly believe that Couture, Huerta, and Ortiz are fighters who fight because they love fighting, and love competition.
Rampage I think is the same way.
Even if he takes a year-long break from active competition I think that his competitive drive would eventually bring him back to fighting. However, I don’t think his time away from the Octagon will last even that long.
Rampage is a valuable asset for the UFC, especially considering the money that the UFC has invested in the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, in which Rampage has a starring role. Dana White will go to great lengths to try to make sure he gets the conclusion that everybody wants out of the TUF season.
Meanwhile millions of fans will be calling for Rampage to honor an implicit agreement to fight Rashad Evans. Rampage wasn’t happy when fans thought he was ducking Machida. He’ll be even less happy when they accuse him of ducking Rashad Evans.
The combined pressure from fans and UFC management should be more than enough to bring Rampage back, if his own drive isn’t enough.