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Thursday Throwdown: Persecution Complex Edition

By on March 29, 2012

When I say “persecution complex”, I mean something like “when you blow off a huge fight to make a movie, go on a Red Bull-and-insanity-fueled road rage episode, continually make headlines by treating female reporters like whores, threaten to leave the company even though they’ve supported you through your poor decisions, badmouth the company at every turn and still think that you’re the victim.”

Or you could go by the Webster’s dictionary version, if you prefer (I guess it’d be for you tech-savvy kids these days). I think my definition is a bit more colorful, though.

The guy I’m describing is Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and the world has been out to get him for quite some time. Somebody is always disrespecting him; somebody always wants to step over the line with him. This continues to happen despite the fact that he never does anything to provoke it.

If you’re thinking of writing an incredulous e-mail, first go back and read that last paragraph with your Sarcasm Goggles firmly in place.

Rampage Jackson has done the best that he could over the last several years to sabotage his own career, and has somehow failed to do so. He’s blown off fights, pissed off his employer, gotten in trouble with the law, over-eaten, under-trained, refused to evolve in any meaningful way as a fighter and athlete, and yet he’s still put together a pretty damn good career.

I’ve always liked Rampage as a fighter. I even feel like he’s probably a pretty decent guy, and he’s funny at times. But he certainly has a persecution complex, along with a host of other issues, not the least of which is that he hasn’t ever wanted to be a top-notch fighter for very long. He’s had periods where he’s clearly trained hard and fought his best, but he also has had several fights where he admits he is not very motivated. He takes time off and balloons up to as much as 250 pounds after fights. He admitted long ago that fighting is about the money, and that’s it.

That’s fine, don’t get me wrong. Lots of people perform jobs that they don’t necessarily love because they pay well. However, in a sport like this, that outlook won’t allow you to be at your best for very long. Furthermore, when you’re the kind of person who doesn’t think anything is your fault, what are the chances that you aren’t surrounding yourself with “yes men” and not truly challenging yourself the way that you need to in order to improve?

Ultimately, you have to wonder. Is Rampage really that pissed that the UFC “took [his] love of fighting” (whatever that means), or is he just sick of fighting top guys? After losses against fighters like Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans, he said he’s tired of being matched up with wrestlers, but the real truth is he’s just tired of losing. He wants to fight opponents who will fight his way, period. In the meantime, he doesn’t really care if he gets tested. I can tell you that at this point in his career, he doesn’t want to be defending takedowns or getting kicked in the knees by world champions all night long.

Rampage knows that he can make a little money outside of the UFC. He can fight lesser opponents, win without training as hard as he should, avoid some of the wear and tear that fighting elite opponents brings, and still get paid due to name recognition. Whether he even consciously allows himself to realize this is anyone’s guess. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. His time as an elite light heavyweight is just about up, he’s not winning the UFC title again, and he knows it. Now he just wants a few more paydays. That’s what this is about.

Further News in Paranoia, Featuring King Mo

Another fighter who is famously quick to assume that he’s being attacked in Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal. Yes, he of the high-level wrestling and prickly personality. King Mo tested positive for Dostranolone, a steroid that has been cited in the past as being helpful for fighters who want to accelerate their healing from training injuries, but then took it to another level when he wasn’t pleased with part of his hearing with the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

First off, he said that he felt that the NSAC had already made up their minds before he appeared, which I actually agree with. The NSAC isn’t exactly what you would call either “progressive” or “understanding”. Among other things, King Mo tweeted the following:

“I honestly feel like Lundvall was a racist bitch asking me if I can read or speak english. Go on somewhere with that bullshit bitch!!! That one commissioner was bogus. The rest were coo and they were white and latino.”

If you want to hear the portion of the hearing where the NSAC rep asks him if he can read English, go to about the 6:45 mark here. My personal take on it is that the rep was unnecessarily condescending. Her tone was sadly, not unlike what I would expect from a person in a position of power who is being asked to judge someone who has made a mistake. Clearly, as with all people in such a position, she’s never done anything stupid in her life and wants to establish that King Mo is a foolish, short-sighted and dumb individual.

Would I want to call her a “bitch” if I was him? Yes, I would. Was it racist, though? Slow down, Mo. Her point, as unnecessarily rude as it was put, was that he is perfectly capable of doing his own research, reading labels, looking up supplements on the internet, and figuring out what should or should not be going into his body. Mo had just pointed out that his trainers research his supplements, and she wanted him to take some responsibility for what he uses.

Now, I haven’t had the life experiences that Mo has had, which some may point out could mean that I won’t catch on to racist undertones that he may detect. At the same time, since race has not been such an issue in my life, I also have seen and experienced that no matter what color you are, sometimes people in power just like to be dicks. That’s what happened here. To a certain extent, Mo is limited to his own experiences in the same way that I am. To an even greater extent, Mo’s tendency to think that people that disagree with him are stupid or just don’t understand, as well as his rather paranoid reaction to what just seemed to be a condescending Judge Judy-style lecture has now hurt his career in a very tangible way.

Furthermore, to go on Twitter and say this kind of stuff about an NSAC official when a)fighters have been fired recently for saying inflammatory things on Twitter and b)Dana White and the UFC in general still can’t shake the whole “kissing up to the NSAC” thing (even though the NSAC needs the UFC as much as the other way around at this point) is very foolish. When people pointed out as such, Mo simply responded on Twitter that it didn’t happen to them, so they don’t understand. When people pointed out that the lady didn’t seem racist, just rude, he again said that they just don’t understand.

Maybe they don’t, and maybe I don’t. Maybe this woman really is racist. At the end of the day though, whether she was a racist or just a jerk doesn’t really matter. What matters is that instead of calling her out as soon as it happened (“I don’t appreciate you talking down to me in that way” would have been fine), lodging a complaint with the commission or voicing concerns over Twitter or in interviews in a less-inflammatory matter, Mo decided to let it rip and now he’s canned.

Like I’ve talked about in the past, the UFC is neither consistent nor fair in the way that they punish their fighters. Knowing that, you just can’t afford to do what King Mo just did and call it like you see it. Only one person affiliated with the UFC is allowed to say whatever he wants, and his name is Dana White.

Non-MMA Rant of the Week

You know, you can go ahead and suspend an NFL coach for a year because he knowingly allowed a “bounty” system that rewarded defensive players for, among other things, injuring opponents and knocking them out of the game. You’re Roger Goodell, and that’s what you do: levy huge fines and penalties to show everyone that you’re a huge badass, you could probably go on the field and whoop all those guys asses, and you’re definitely not endowed like a grasshopper. No, definitely not.

But please, don’t feed me a turd sandwich and call it tuna. Saying that the reason you went all “righteous indignation” on us is that safety is the NFL’s number one concern is a farce. Let me get this straight: you care more about safety than anything, which is why you want an 18 game season? Never mind that plenty of players have a hard time making it through the current 16-game season healthy, or even one game, at that.

Are the quarterbacks the most-protected players on the field because they’re the most fragile? Or is it because they make the most money for the league? Who are the recipients of the vilified helmet-to-helmet hits, more often than not? Wide receivers, running backs, quarterbacks. Money players. Big names. Celebrities. The people that the fans buy tickets to see.

And hey, I get that. Just like I get that the NFL will make a lot more money with an 18-game season. Just call it like it is, though, and admit that none of this is really about safety, but instead about money, power, and deception. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a laundry list full of rules implemented to “make the game more safe” the next time some poor guy gets carried off on a stretcher without feeling in his extremities? Won’t it also be nice to be able to point at New Orleans Saints’ coach Sean Payton and say, “Just look at that poor bastard! I suspended him for a year! How can you say I don’t care about safety?”

One more thing, while we’re at it: please, stop making every new controversy in sports, entertainment, politics and everything else into “____-gate”. The Payton/Saints thing was referred to as “Bountygate”. When the Patriots were caught filming other teams’ practices, it was “Spygate”. When Janet Jackson’s nipple supposedly ruined the innocence of 9-year old boys everywhere (who had doubtlessly already seen naked women, but don’t tell their conservative, supposedly-mortified parents), it was “Nipplegate”. We had “Slutgate”, “Crashgate” and “Tripgate”. “Tasergate”, “Cablegate” and “Memogate”. No, really- there are plenty of them.

The problem is, it’s all incredibly stupid. The original -gate scandal was the infamous Watergate scandal, so-named because it occurred at the Watergate complex. It wasn’t called that because “gate” is synonymous with “scandal”, which means that calling another scandal “Bountygate” (or whatever) essentially makes no fucking sense. But it’s not supposed to make sense, just like a football player “downhill running” in an NFL game, a fighter throwing punches “with bad intentions” (as if there is any other way to throw one), and so many other tired, meaningless sports cliches.

Let’s be honest, here. The media is- by and large- lazy and unimaginative, which is why every so-called scandal will carry the -gate suffix until Nukegate, Warminggate, Meteorgate or Aliengate ends the world for good one day.

Quote of the Week

“You can complain about your rib. I’m sure your rib did hurt; your rib is inside of a coward. That’s the problem your rib’s got, it’s got the same problem your hands and feet have — they’re attached to you, dummy.”– Chael Sonnen, pointing out what he thinks was the real problem with Anderson Silva’s ribs when they fought at UFC 117.

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1 comment
  1. Mick says:

    Wow Jon;

    Too long of time hearing from that Tazz devil just under your skin! Your post is almost sad in a way except for the “self-destructive” 100% truth of Rampage’s ugly departure. For me that began in his TUF coaching season against Evans. He was anything and everything BUT a coach. I believe that constant camera exposure over time will reveal a much more raw and accurate demonstration of a man’s character. Frankly in my opinion Rampage is a really tough guy that got lucky in many ways. The subsequent fame and fortune for his toughness and the excitement he brought to the contests will remain. Sadly also in the future conversations about Jackson will always lead to how it ended.

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