It all started when Jackson lost what appeared to be an unmotivated contest against Ryan Bader at UFC 144 on Feb. 25, 2012, in Saitama, Japan. After the unanimous decision defeat and failing to make weight the day prior because of a training injury, which led to using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) leading up to the fight (under somewhat mirky circumstances), "Rampage" took a significant amount of criticism from mixed martial arts (MMA) fans and UFC President Dana White, among others.
Tonight (March 12, 2012), Jackson appeared on HDNet's "Inside MMA" to voice his displeasure with the way he feels he's been treated and to publicly request his release.
He wasn't pulling any punches:
"I've been upset with the UFC and the opponents they've been giving me. I think Joe Silva needs to be shot in the face. I'm sorry, but if you got a fighter like me who likes to go out and put on fights, why you giving me wrestlers who are gonna take me down and hump me? I'm sorry. But I'm a little tired of the UFC and their texts. After my fight with Jon Jones, they told my manager that I was losing my appeal, that rappers and stuff don't come out to watch me fight no more, that the fans don't really like me no more. And it was gettin' close to the time for me to renegotiate, and PRIDE did the same thing to me. For me, the respect is worth more than the money. I'll go fight for some other show for free. I'll prove to the fans that I'm not all about money. I'll go fight for some other show for five dollars. I think the UFC should have said 'thank you' to 'Rampage' and all that. I was my first time ever not making weight. You could tell something was wrong. In my whole career, I've always been respectful to everybody. I make weight. Why do I wanna give my opponent 20 percent of my purse? I wish I didn't have to fight. I wish I didn't have no more fights with them (UFC). I'm trying to get out of this one fight."
Jackson went on to continue questioning the way he has been handled and promoted by the UFC:
"When you get a fighter like me, that you can promote all around, like, I can make people laugh and stuff like that, you can promote that guy. You don't try to bring him down or let the fans look at him a different way -- you promote that guy. But, I don't understand why they don't. They barely promote me. It's the same thing PRIDE did. That's why I left PRIDE. I hope people understand my decision. This is my career. But, sometimes the fans are sheep. They don't know. they just know what they told."
"Rampage" spoke about his recent admission that he used TRT to help heal up from a knee injury before his fight at UFC 144. According to Jackson, TRT shouldn't be abused, but for him, using it was a "no-brainer:"
"I did use TRT, 'cuz my doctor prescribed it to me, because of my levels were low, and he said it would help me heal up my knee. I never backed off those statements, not once. I didn't even have to give that information. I chose to give it, because a lot of people out there are cheating with steroids and stuff, and some people are even abusing TRT, and I choose not to. I don't wanna be a cheater. I'm always up front with everybody. I always keep it real and any of my fans that know me know that I do that. I don't consider it cheating. If I have hair missing, I'm gonna use a hair transplant, if I want to. If I lose some of my teeth, I'm gonna put teeth back in my mouth. If I'm athlete and my doctor says, 'Well, your testosterone is low. You gonna be at a disadvantage with the other fighters,' then I'm gonna bring my levels of testosterone back up. Plus, it'll heal you, so I thought it was a no-brainer.... I think it's a good thing if fighters don't abuse it. It's easy to abuse. You can abuse any drug. I don't think marijuana is a drug. I think it's a herb. I think it's bad if you abuse it. Not that I smoke marijuana, because I haven't smoked it in years, but I'm not saying I wouldn't smoke it. You understand what I'm saying? If I do smoke it, I just wouldn't abuse it. People abuse drugs, which makes drugs bad. If you don't abuse them, then they can be good for you."
Jackson believes that his newly found treatment may be the thing that rejuvenates him and adds years on to his career. Here's what he had to say to HDNet's Bas Rutten:
"I saw a big difference right away. It was very beneficial to me in my training. I felt like a 25-year old again. If my knee wasn't injured, you guys would have seen a new fighter. I'm hoping that my knee heals up, pretty soon. I keep doing exactly what the doctor asks me to do, and I'll add ten more years on to my fighting life."
When put to the question, "Rampage" was open about his desire to bolt the Octagon and be done with the UFC. He says he feels unappreciated and is ready to move on:
"I don't wanna fight for the UFC no more. I think the fans don't understand. They think just because I make a lot of money, I should be happy 'cuz I got a nice house. But I only stated that I fight for money 'cuz it's my career. I think a lot of fans are sheep and they don't understand. The thing is, the UFC knew I was injured and they knew I still fought for them. I feel like if I didn't fight on that card (UFC 144), the appeal wouldn't have been as big. I'm not trying to toot my own horn or nothin' like that, but they only had me and Mark Hunt, that I know of, that fought in PRIDE before and Mark Hunt is a K-1 fighter. That's a different crowd. Like, some people still watch both, but still, that's a different crowd. So, I think if I would have pulled out, I don't think they would have done as well as they did.... The fans think that the UFC is the only show in town and everything, but I don't care about money. I make enough money. I got money saved up. I got money that I'm making in other places. If you think I made all my money in the UFC, you wrong. I didn't make all my money in the UFC. I got sponsors that help me out. And the UFC talkin' 'bout how they got a billion homes, they makin' all this money, but yet, I'm makin' less money than I used to make with the UFC. Why is the UFC getting bigger, which means I'm getting bigger, but I'm making less money? So, I just don't wanna be with them no more. I think that if anybody think that I can't make my own career choices, then you a bigot. I can do whatever the hell I wanna do. I'm a grown ass man. I don't wanna have to fight for somebody no more, if they not really appreciating me. I feel like I got a lot of fans, and they not tell me 'thank you' for putting my life on the line to fight, even when I'm injured. So, I'm done with them."
Adding to the idea that he believes the UFC has mishandled his career, Jackson even went as far as to accuse the UFC of some very dirty misdoings. Paranoid much?
"It is hard on the body. The UFC, they know that. The UFC, they good. The one thing I liked about them is they're very upfront about things. When you get hurt, they send you to the doctors and they pay for everything. You only need to train for the fight. PRIDE wasn't like that. The UFC, they knew I was hurt. They knew I was hurt for the Rashad (Evans) fight, and they still talked crap about me. I did fight Rashad, but because I pulled out for the 'A-team' movie, I don't get no 'thank you' or nothin' like that. What I get is Rashad punching me in the knee. How Rashad know my knee was hurt?"
Ultimately, Jackson has been hurt by the criticism from Dana White and UFC management. He believes he's given his all in the cage, and that that has not been reflected in the way his bosses have dealt with him publicly:
"When I fought Forrest (Griffin), I got two injuries, but I still fight. I haven't pulled out of a fight yet because of an injury. My last fight, I should've pulled out, but I didn't. And I didn't say anything, you know what I'm saying? I never say nothin'. I just don't get the respect that I should get. I pulled out of a fight for the movie, 'cuz I was a big fan of the movie. But, injuries, I still go and I fight. I've won injured before, and I've lost injured. I always think there's a puncher's chance I could win the fight. but, in my last fight, I had to cut 22 pounds, 'cuz the testosterone, I didn't know it would put that much weight on you. I didn't know. I did cut 22 pounds. I did make the fight. I was injured. I was barely walking, but I made the fight, and the thanks I get is Dana saying, 'Oh, he looks terrible,' and Dana knew I was hurt. So, after that I was like, 'I ain't puttin' my life on the line for these guys no more.' They know what was goin' on and they still try to make me look bad. They tryin' to make me lose my fan base. In my opinion, that's what they tryin' to do. 'Cuz they don't want me to be bigger than the UFC. The movie that I did was bigger than the UFC. I know what's goin' on, so I'm gonna let them have the UFC. I don't wanna be a part of the UFC no more. I'm not that happy in the UFC. I don't wanna be a part of the UFC no more. Just let me go. If they feel like I've lost my appeal, just let me go! I don't wanna keep fighting guys that are gonna lay there and hump my leg and the referee not gonna stand us up. Let me go."
At this point, it's unsure where "Rampage" will end up, but as interviews and comments like these continue to mount up, it's unlikely that we will see him in the UFC Octagon again, any time soon.
Either that or a rematch with another wrestler is on the horizon.
Here is the full video of "Rampage's" interview with Bas Rutten: