Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson made his name in Pride, and he's getting the chance to go back to Japan when he faces Ryan Bader at UFC 144. In the first of a three-part blog on Yahoo Sports, Rampage talked about still hoping to win back his belt one day despite his loss to Jon Jones at UFC 135, his love for the Land of the Rising Sun, and his motivation going forward. First, he talks Jon Jones:
I worked so hard for the Jon Jones fight in September. I trained my ass off. As I said before the fight, I was in the best shape of my life, but in the Octagon I didn’t perform like I should have done. It is frustrating for me, and I felt bad for all my team who got me ready for that Jon Jones fight.
I still think I can win my title back, and I still think I can even win it back from Jon Jones, but I would have to execute the game plan. Jones was very good on the night; he did what he had to with style and stopped me doing what I needed to do. Respect to him.
But in this fight on February 25, I get the next best thing: I get to fight in Japan for the first time in six years. It’s no secret I love Japan. Japan is where I became a MMA fighter, it is where I made a name for myself and learned how to kick ass. The fans there are so respectful, I can’t wait to perform for them again. I really, really want a sick knockout for them, and maybe even I’ll do my powerbomb if Bader is dumb enough to give me the chance.
Did you know Rampage just opened a gym and is still motivated to fight? You do now:
I’m not going to lie, I still don’t like training too much. Getting sweaty with other dudes? Not really my thing. There’s other things I can think of which are a lot more fun to do. But I train a lot harder than I used to, and a lot smarter. I’ve even opened up my own gym, the Rampage Fitness Academy in Mission Viejo, CA, which was something I thought I’d never do.
Some haters have said now that I didn’t get my belt back after three years of waiting for my shot, I’m not going to be motivated in my fighting career. That is what my English friends call "bollocks". I am very motivated to kick Bader’s ass. I was a little pissed off and disappointed that I didn’t get my belt back and I was upset with my performance. I’m going to take that out on Ryan Bader and – in front of the Japanese fight fans – put on a great fight.
If Rampage can defeat Bader, there are some enticing possible fights still available to him (rematches with Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans remain possibilities, as well as bouts with young guns like Alexander Gustafsson down the road). While he's unlikely to get that belt around his waist again, people still like to watch him fight, so that should keep him around a while longer. Parts two and three of the blog will be out early next week.