Former UFC light heavyweight titleholder Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made a name for himself in mixed martial arts competing in the Japanese-based Pride organization. When the UFC announced they would be returning to the “Land of the Rising Sun” for the first time in over a decade, he knew that he wanted to be on the card.
It wasn’t that easy, though. It would take some behind the scenes negotiations and a little hardball, but Jackson got what he asked for and faces Ryan Bader in the co-main event at UFC 144 on Feb. 26.
“As soon as I found out the UFC was coming to Japan, I told Dana [White] ‘hey, whether I win or lose my last fight, I want to fight in Japan.’ So I’ve been very, very excited and waiting to come back here and fight in front of the Japanese audience,” said Jackson during a press conference promoting the event.
“I had to fight to be on this card and complain and bitch to my manager. Now I think the representatives of the UFC upset with me a little bit, but ask me do I care,” he added.
Jackson had some of his career defining moments in Japan, and returning there to fight has Rampage motivated.
“I’m all about putting on an exciting fight in Japan. One thing I love about the Japanese fans, one reason I love them the most out of everybody is cause they don’t care if you win or lose, all they care is if you have samurai spirit, you go in and have a good fight. That’s why Japanese fans are my favorite and American fans are jealous that I say that all the time,” he said.
“I just remember back when I was fighting here I just had so much energy and I wanted to put on a good show for all the fans cause of the energy they give,” added the former champion.
Jackson misses competing in front of the large crowds in Japan and their appreciation for a good fight. He explains the differences between the two fight-fan cultures and how it might lead to him taking more chances for the sake of entertainment.
“Like in America, you’re under so much pressure to win, winning at any cost, cause fans talk (expletive) to you if you lose. Even if it’s a good, exciting fight. In Japan, it’s just a different energy,” said Jackson. “Who knows, maybe I’ll take more chances and not care, cause it’s all about the crowd. I react with the crowd and I don’t care about people watching on TV. I rep for the crowd.
“I want to just put on a great show.”