by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Listening to Quinton Jackson talk on Thursday, if you dig a little deeper than the surface, it’s easy to believe his announced stint on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter and subsequent showdown with Rashad Evans are nothing more than a smokescreen for Lyoto Machida.
To be sure, there’s some legitimate heat between he and Evans, which started after Jackson’s win at UFC 96. “Right after my fight with Keith Jardine, as soon as they announced me winning, I smelled this smell and there was Evans in my face.
“Dana (White, UFC President) told me I could fight whoever. I had my mind set to fight Evans. The fight would have meant more to me had he won (against Machida), but that’s what I want. I want to whoop his ass.”
But Jackson’s desire to coach opposite Evans on season ten, dubbed “The Ultimate Fighter: The Heavyweights,” surely has more to it than a simple grudge with Evans. Let’s face it, nearly every fighter’s dream is to wear the title belt around his waste, and Jackson has tasted that. His ultimate goal is to return to glory as the UFC light heavyweight champion, a title he was none too happy to relinquish to Forrest Griffin in July of 2008.
This time, however, he appears to be preparing for a more calculated assault on the title with plans to keep it around his waste for more than a couple of defenses. He’s already returned to his winning ways with a knockout of nemesis Wanderlei Silva and the unanimous decision victory over Jardine. But he believes he still has work to do.
“To be honest, I wanted to sharpen up on some of my skills,” said Jackson on Thursday when asked about the extended time he will have to spend outside of the Octagon for another stint as coach.
“This gives me time to continue to heal up. I fought really hard, two fights. I trained really hard for the Wanderlei fight. I went right back training for Jardine. This gives me time to kick it with my kids and sharpen up my skills.”
His patience in returning to title contention was echoed by White, who recalled his conversation with Jackson about coaching or being next in line for Machida’s belt. “He said, ‘The title’s gonna be there. I’m coming after the title. Whether Machida keeps the title or loses it, I’m coming after the title, but I want to kick Rashad’s ass.’”
And with a team full of fresh faces and big bodies, Jackson can feed off of the energy and atmosphere of learning that is likely to permeate his Ultimate Fighter team. He’s looking to reshape himself into the more well rounded, but unpredictable fighter that produced the Rampage name.
“I’ve been watching my fights… I heard Rashad talking and Joe Rogan talking about I’m getting more predictable, that I’m just out there punching. I haven’t been slamming people in a while. I want to get back to slamming people and stuff like that,” he said with a longing in his voice. “I want to be more unpredictable. I was unpredictable back in the day… Now I’m just working on everything. And be like the ultimate fighter, the one who can do everything, like GSP baby!”