Everyone remembers the days of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson when he was competing in Pride Fighting Championships.
His highlight reel slam of Ricardo Arona still makes people cringe. Some of Jackson’s performances in Japan were the stuff of legends, both wins and losses.
As Jackson embarks on his return to Japan for UFC 144 in February, he appeared at the pre-fight press conference on Sunday to answer questions from the media. One of the most interesting ones involved his apparent switch in styles from his Pride days to his most recent fights in the UFC.
Did Rampage evolve and improve since his days competing in Pride?
Well, to hear Jackson tell it, he’s not sure if his evolving game has actually been a blessing or a curse.
“Actually, my stand-up has evolved a lot since I last fought here. At the same time, that’s what’s been getting me in trouble a lot lately,” Jackson admitted. “Cause everybody sees me boxing and stuff a lot more, and so they’re creating great game plans to counter my boxing.”
Jackson looks back on his days in Pride with fond memories, not only because of how much he loved competing in Japan, but how his performances matched the crowd’s reactions.
“Back in Japan, I used to slam a lot and put on more of a show. Cause the energy from the fans gave me power, but I don’t feel the same energy in the U.S. So I can’t honestly say I’ve improved or evolved in a good way since being in Japan,” Jackson said candidly.
It has been a criticism of Jackson’s game since coming to the UFC that he rarely uses his wrestling anymore in fights, preferring instead to stand and trade with opponents.
Since coming to the UFC in 2007, Jackson has gone 7-3 overall with three of those victories coming by way of knockout. It’s those very knockouts that have kind of come back to bite Rampage because he got the rush of that feeling, and decided he liked it instead of mixing things up more.
“I always train to slam people and wrestle and do all this different stuff, but when I fight most of the time it’s been a stand-up war cause I started knocking people out and I started liking it,” said Jackson.
When Rampage returns to the Land of the Rising Sun at UFC Japan: Edgar vs. Henderson, it will literally be six years to the day since he last fought there, when he defeated Dong Sik Yoon in his final fight for Pride.
Six years later, with 11 more fights to his credit, Rampage is certainly a different fighter, but will he revert to the old Pride version when he lands back in Japan to face Ryan Bader?
“I can’t really say that. When I train, I train to do so many different things, but when I actually get in the cage and fight it’s like whatever I feel like doing that day. Something comes out,” said Jackson. “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.”
Rampage will surely feel the energy of the Japanese fans when he returns to the Land of the Rising Sun in February, but only time will tell if he will find his Pride roots along the way.