Entertainment

Rampage Jackson’s Situation Can Change the UFC

Rampage JacksonSay it ain’ t so, Rampage! According to his personal website, rampage-jackson.com, Quinton Jackson retired yesterday from fighting for good. He cites the lack of respect he receives from Dana White as well as his personal agenda of being a successful actor as his reasons for the decision. While most of us knew of the small rift in the relationship between Jackson and White over the last few weeks, this was truly a bombshell to all of us.

It started weeks ago when Jackson accepted the role of B.A. Baracus for The A-Team movie that caused him to cancel his pending fight against Rashad Evans. This movie has been works since the mid-1990′ s. Joe Carnahan is on-tap to direct with Ridley Scott producing. The cast is stacked and consists of Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and Jessica Biel. 20th Century Fox is going to distribute the film. In a nutshell, this is no small, independent film that is a guaranteed flop. The role of B.A. Baracus is what catapulted Mr. T into the big name that he is today. This appears to be a strong, formidable film and an excellent opportunity for Jackson to cement himself as an actor. This is a chance of a lifetime.

Isn’ t fighting in the UFC a chance of a lifetime as well, however? It’ s the signature mixed-martial arts company in the world. It’ s where the best-of-the-best square off monthly and make the most money. It’ s the company that fans talk about by the water cooler. It’ s the logo that adorns clothing of men and women of all ages. When people think MMA, they think UFC. So why is it that fighters seem to come and go from there so quickly?

For Rampage, it was the appeal of being a movie star. In his blog, Rampage mentioned how he and his father used to bond together while watching The A-Team when he was a kid. Jackson mentioned how his dad had a drug and alcohol problem that put a strain on their relationship. His dad has since gone to rehab and overcome those issues. This makes this role even more sentimental to him and his family. Dana White’ s response to Rampage pulling out of his fight with Rashad to accept this role was startling.

“Guess what Rashad Evans is thinking about right now,” Dana quipped. “He’ s thinking about beating your f*cking ass. He’ s not sitting around thinking about how he and his mom used to watch the f*cking Love Boat together and he wants to get the role of Isaac the bartender.”

While it’ s probably accurate that Rashad is not sitting around thinking about the Love Boat, Rashad was under the impression that the fight would still go on. “I am going to fight Quinton, but not when I’ m supposed to. He’ s kind of getting sidetracked taking other opportunities above fighting….If it couldn’ t happen at all, I would definitely want to fight somebody else, but I know the UFC definitely has a lot invested in us fighting each other. It makes no sense for us to fight somebody else because then all that they have created is just a waste.”

Rampage remained quiet through all of this. Dana, however, would have none of that. “I’ m so mad at Rampage over this. Rampage is a guy that we’ ve obviously taken under our wings the last couple of years. We really like him and done a lot of good things for him. For him to do this to me, and pull out for this goofy A-Team movie, I’ m not happy at all. They’ re not paying him jack. He’ s giving up literally millions of dollars to play Mr. T. If you think he’ s gonna go in and say ‘I pity the fool’ and he’ s gonna become a huge, serious actor off that role, give me a friggin’ break. They got him thinking that they’re going to make this movie for nothing, and then the sequel he’ll make $20 million.” Dana then joked, “I’ll pay [Jackson] nothing to fight Rashad, and then give him $20 million for the rematch.”

Dana White has obtained the reputation of being a loud-mouth, cocky, pull-no-punches person. He’ s been known to bad-mouth his own employees for years. It’ s the way he works. He trashed Brock Lesnar before Lesnar signed with the UFC. He’ s trashed Couture, Cro Cop, Ortiz, and his newest employee, Kimbo Slice. It’ s just the way he works. People put up with it because he’ s where the money is. It’ s like comparing Vince McMahon to Dixie Carter. There is extra baggage and criticism that comes with working for McMahon; however, he is where the big money is.

Now that Rampage has retired, it has the potential to change many things for the UFC. For starters, more UFC fighters will venture out of fighting to pursue other entertainment avenues. As UFC gains in popularity and continues to obtain mainstream coverage, it’ s going to get more and more difficult to keep their fighters on any sort of schedule. Would any of us have ever though 5 years ago that Chuck Liddell would be a contestant on a nationally televised, top-rated ballroom dancing show? Rampage is full of charisma and there are many other fighters who would be appealing in a different role. Even the big money in the WWE couldn’ t keep people like the Rock or Steve Austin in the squared circle.

Second, MMA is growing so fast. Teenagers are now growing up wanting to me mixed-martial artists. Young adults are training for MMA away from their day jobs. People are retiring from their jobs and taking up MMA. See Walker, Herschel or Mayorga, Ricardo. This growth is going to spawn the need for a real rival MMA organization for the UFC. EliteXC bombed. Affliction folded. Strikeforce is currently the only hope to be that competition. Having another large company will hopefully change Dana White. Once these top-notch fighters have a legit second option that provides the same money and exposure, Dana White will think twice about mocking a guy who wants to take a movie role that reminds him of his father. Dana White will be forced to give a negative interview about a guy without dropping the F-bomb 15 times in a 10 word sentence. Dana White might need to be….professional.

It’ s time that Dana White starts understanding that it’ s these fighters who make him money. It’ s these fighters who have gotten the UFC to where it is. Fighters like Shamrock, Gracie, Severn, Liddell, Couture, Griffin, ect. Those are the names that put MMA in the mainstream. Those are the names that helped the UFC sell millions of pay-per-views and have a weekly show on national TV. Until Dana White learns to treat his fighters like human beings, he’ s going to continue having this problem where guys are turning their backs on the UFC, fighting other places or accepting different roles. Maybe it’ s just going to take that one guy to clock him, a la Bret Hart/Vince McMahon.

This entire situation will have a long-lasting effect on the future of the UFC, its athletes, and its competition. MMA will not pay the bills for these fighters years after their fighting days are over. This is no union. There is no pension. They’ re on their own. These guys need to do what they have to do to continue making a living. They don’ t make the big money like boxers. A UFC main-eventer may bring in $500,000. Meanwhile, Floyd Mayweather fights for the first time in years and makes $10-million. If I were Dana White, I’ d learn to become a professional, graceful owner of a massive, multi-million dollar organization before these fighters take down his company faster then they built it.

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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