Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 | 2:15 p.m.
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- UFC section
With a surgically repaired knee and a self-described more positive outlook on fighting, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson isn’t ready to retire from the sport that made him famous.
The 34-year-old mixed martial arts star says he will fight for at least a couple more years. It just won’t be in the octagon.
Jackson (32-10 MMA, 7-4 UFC) announced plans to walk away from the UFC after his Jan. 26 light heavyweight bout against Glover Teixiera (19-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) in Chicago on the sixth Fox card. And there’s no changing the former champion’s mind.
“Honestly, I’m kind of over it,” Jackson said on a conference call. “I gave them time and time again to try to keep me happy and stuff like that. Honestly, I think the UFC is happy with me leaving as well. I think it’s a mutual thing. I don’t think there’s anything they can do to keep me.”
Despite headlining eight cards, including four title fights, Jackson has long held a contentious relationship with the UFC. He revealed that he had one fight left on his contract last year and vowed to walk away after fulfilling the obligation.
But UFC President Dana White never closed the door on the possibility of coming to terms with Jackson again. Jackson slammed it shut Tuesday.
“They offered to renegotiate my contract, but I didn’t like it,” Jackson said. “I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to renegotiate with them. I think the UFC doesn’t know how to treat their athletes, and in my opinion, fighters do a lot for the sport and are not being taken care of well enough.”
Jackson’s original issue with the UFC was its matchmaking. After a lackluster decision victory over Matt Hamill followed by losses to Jon Jones and Ryan Bader, Jackson complained about going against too many wrestlers.
Jackson built a reputation as one of MMA’s most vicious strikers through 14 knockout victories, but he hasn’t finished an opponent in more than four years. He blames the streak on the type of fighters the UFC has put in front of him — now including Teixiera.
“He’s a guy who says he’s going to knock me out,” Jackson said, “but I think he’s going to try to take me down and fight me mostly on the ground just like the other guys I fought. It sounds cowardly.”
Jackson’s biggest current problem with the UFC, however, has nothing to do with his opponents.
“I’m sponsored by Reebok now and the UFC says I’m not allowed to wear Reebok in the cage when I see other fighters sponsored by Nike and stuff,” Jackson said. “Why can’t I have Reebok? It’s stupid stuff like that. It’s not just about money. It’s about respect. I step into the octagon, and I put my life on the line. I try to be an exciting fighter and I just don’t feel appreciated. I’d rather take a money cut and go to another show and feel appreciated.”
Jackson reported that Reebok decided to stick with him anyway. He will sport the shoe company’s gear wherever he winds up after the UFC.
Although Jackson intends to keep fighting, he could pursue a career outside of MMA. He expressed a desire to land another acting job after co-starring in the “The A-Team” three years ago. Or Jackson might try another sport.
“I’ve done jiu-jitsu tournaments, wrestling tournaments, kickboxing fights,” Jackson said. “But I’ve never done boxing. I want to. I think that would probably be my biggest challenge.”
The UFC can rest assured it’s getting something meaningful out of Jackson’s last fight. Teixeira is one of the brightest up-and-comers in the division and one of the only remaining threats to champion Jon Jones. A win over Jackson would boost his résumé significantly.
Teixeira realizes he has an opportunity to impress an increased audience with a bout against Jackson.
“I’m trying to put up a great fight for the fans so people get to know me,” he said.
Jackson has other ideas. The extended plans he’s dreamed up for his future starts in Chicago.
“I’ve trained to destroy him then leave the UFC on a positive note and go on with my life and let the UFC be my past,” Jackson said.