Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson received his long desired wish to return Far East last night (Sat., Feb. 25, 2012) when he climbed inside the cage in front of his adoring fans at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, at UFC 144 against Ryan Bader.
Unfortunately for "Rampage," his homecoming was not a successful one, as "Darth" largely dominated Japan's adopted son en route to a unanimous decision victory.
Coming in six pounds overweight, Jackson later revealed his excess baggage was due to the fact the he was suffering through an undisclosed injury during training camp. Not wanting to pull out of the fight, especially after lobbying so hard for it, Jackson kept his secret injury to himself and proceeded with his obligations.
After failing to make weight, fans, fellow fighters and media alike questioned whether Jackson's heart was still in the game and if his desire to compete inside the Octagon was still there. And even though "Rampage" isn't surprised he lost the fight, he assures everyone that his desire to compete is indeed still there and he has no plans on leaving the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) any time soon.
See what he had to say at the UFC 144 post-fight press conference in Japan:
"Well if I am going to be critically honest, I am not surprised I lost the fight because I tried to keep the secret that I almost didn't make it to the fight but I didn't want to pull out for the Japanese fans. I injured my knee pretty bad, my doctor told me not to fight. It wasn't real serious, I didn't need surgery or nothing, but he just told me it wasn't a good idea to fight. I decided to fight anyway and I re-injured my knee when Bader slammed me. It's ne of those things, I was worried about it, even before the slam, I wasn't really doing a good job, I was worried about it and I had to lose a lot of weight because I couldn't really run and stuff, so it was downhill from the day I hurt my knee in the gym. That's why I just wanted to put on an exciting fight and I'm just happy to even make it her and try to put on a show for the Japanese fans."
If you think "Rampage" just wasn't inspired due to the fact that many feel his MMA career might be coming to an end, think again:
"See, I know I'm getting to the end of my career because I said I didn't want to fight past the age of 35, but honestly, before I hurt my knee, you guys should have seen the way I was training. I got really good sparring partners and I got this really good wrestler, Tyson Jeffries, that kicks my butt in wrestling and at the beginning of this camp I was kicking his butt, I was taking him down and wrestling got real competitive and that is how I hurt my knee. He is one of the best wrestlers I know and I was dealing with him I was handling him I was sparring really good and I was looking like a superstar. Then I hurt me knew. When I got hurt, it was just unfortunate, but now, I know what I can do if I come at 100 percent, so I think I got a lot of years and I'm ready to put on more shows. I heal up fast, I'm like a werewolf, I wasn't even supposed to fight here. But I will be back real soon."
Now that the mysterious injury that hindered Jackson's ability to cut anymore weight and caused his poor performance at UFC 144 is out of the bag, fans can expect better once "Rampage" is healed up once again.
After losing two consecutive bouts, the first time he's done so in his entire MMA career, Jackson assures everyone that he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Treading uncharted waters, Rampage looks to get back on track sooner rather than later.
But in a stacked 205-pound division, that's easier said than done.
What's your take, Maniacs? Are you appreciative of Jackson's willingness to go through a tough fight with a lingering injury tagging along? Who should he face next time up inside the Octagon? Perhaps a rematch with fellow former PRIDE star, Mauricio Rua, who is also coming off a loss, may be in order.