There's hardly a fighter more charismatic than Quinton Jackson.
Ever since his days in PRIDE Fighting Championships (PRIDE), the Memphis-born fighter has been entertaining fans with his mouth as much as he has with his fists. His battles against longtime rival Wanderlei Silva are legendary and he entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as the only man to have an unavenged victory over Chuck Liddell.
In his second bout inside the Octagon, "Rampage" replicated the result against "The Iceman" and captured the light heavyweight championship of the world. Some months later, he defeated Dan Henderson and -- on top of winning the PRIDE title which eluded him for so many years -- became the undisputed 205-pound king of the world.
Then came Forrest Griffin with his razor-thin, controversial decision, and "Rampage" hasn't been the same since.
After losing to Ryan Bader last month at UFC 144 -- Jackson's second consecutive loss -- "Rampage" has been on a Twitter spree, claiming he is underpaid, undervalued and just plain under-appreciated. I'm not sure what world Jackson lives in but the reality is far, far from what he is claiming.
The former champion has openly expressed his desire to be released from his contract. I don't think that's the right move for Dana White and company. The UFC should absolutely not release Jackson.
They should let the contract run out, as long as it may be, and let "Rampage" sit on the sidelines.
We've suffered Jackson's foolishness since his loss to Griffin due to the goodwill he's stored up throughout his career.
When he backed out of a much ballyhooed fight against Rashad Evans -- a fight the company devoted an entire season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) to hype -- to star in a Hollywood action flick, we felt it was his due right to make as much money as he could outside the Octagon while the getting was good. Then when he decided to stop fighting altogether, we were peeved the grudge match wouldn't see the light of day, sure, but we understood.
"Rampage" has always been about money and he's never made it a secret.
He about-faced a couple months later and announced he would fulfill his contract and the fight with Evans was back on. He would end up losing decisively, even getting rocked early in the first round. Then, he signed a new six-fight contract, an odd action for someone who had retired only months previous. Jackson would go on to defeat Lyoto Machida and Matt Hamill by split and unanimous decision, respectively. Two main events victories which netted him half a million dollars plus pay-per-view (PPV) revenue also earned him a second shot at the light heavyweight title.
He, like everyone else before him, fell to Jon Jones.
He netted another quarter-million dollars for the bout while also pocketing $75,000 thanks to a "Fight of the Night" bonus. Assuming his salary stayed the same for his UFC 144 co-main event against Bader, the fighter who has always claimed he's about the money has earned over a million dollars in the past 18 months.
But yet he tweets UFC should stand for "u fight cheap" and compares his salary and those of his contemporaries to those of Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a baby compared to boxing, barely two decades old with only five years of real momentum and growth behind it. Boxing has been established as the premier combat sport for over half a century, so you might as well compare and contrast apples with oranges instead of each sport's pay structure.
Much like the fit he threw in 2009, Jackson is claiming the UFC is mistreating and disrespecting him.
He's also critical of the match-ups he's been given, saying he's been facing too many wrestlers who are simply looking to "hump" him. As previously stated, Evans rocked "Rampage" in the opening moments of their UFC 114 bout and Jackson mostly stood with Machida, Hamill and Jones.
The 205-pound division has long been heavy on wrestlers, that's something that cannot be avoided. And the UFC would be stupid to simply book "Rampage" in what would amount to exhibition bouts against lower-tiered talent. For the amount of money they're paying him, Jackson is going to actually have to fight someone worth their mettle, not a glorified punching bag.
Still, "Rampage" has had what can be considered easy fights.
Hamill and Bader, while no scrubs, aren't exactly world-beaters either. Jackson went the distance with one and lost to the other while coming in six pounds overweight. That's the only disrespect I see in this situation.
So if "Rampage" has dreams of Hollywood -- even if The A-Team was a commercial and critical flop -- in his head, let him go. But don't release him from his contract. I'm sure the UFC is legal obligated to offer Jackson a fight by a certain date. Wait until that date and offer Phil Davis. I'm sure "Mr. Wonderful" will find a way to keep "Rampage" on his back for 15 minutes. I would also suggest booking the fight as a preliminary bout like the UFC did with Andrei Arlovski, but it wouldn't be fair to Davis.
At that point, Jackson will have one more fight left on his contract. Before he began barking for an immediate release, "Rampage" was claiming Dana White promised to nullify the agreement after his next bout. If that's the case, White should let Jackson out of his contract so he can make awful B-action movies to his heart's content.
Then at least one person will have been a man of his word.