So long UFC! Rampage Jackson is set to leave the organization after a final fight, a rematch with Shogun Rua. Where is his career going to take him next? Photo via SBnation.com
Quinton Jackson has been all over the mixed martial arts (MMA) news this week, making the headlines for a series of anti-Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tweets and staying squarely in the spotlight by going on to repeat those sentiments in an interview with Bas Rutten & Inside MMA that aired last night.
Chief among his complaints is the fact that the UFC is insistent with matching up against wrestlers. In his sharpest comments to date on the matter, Jackson suggested that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva should be shot in the face for doing so. Jackson also asked for his release from the organization instead of fighting out his contract. What did the UFC think of all this? On the most recent episode of UFC Tonight, on FUEL TV, we got our answer when it was revealed that Rampage will indeed have one more fight in the UFC:
If after this fight Jackson does indeed hit the free-agent market, is there even a place for him to go? One would think that Rampage would command a pretty penny, something not too many MMA organizations can offer, but Rampage was quick to tell Rutten that he isn't looking for money:
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.
With it looking like it really will be one more and done for Rampage, after the jump we take a look at five possible fights for Rampage outside the UFC:
1. Todd Duffee -- Super Fight League
The first SFL show is garnering some attention around the MMA world. Unfortunately, it's all the wrong kind of attention. The show is being mocked for the theme song, for the production work and for the in-cage product. (Bob Sapp isn't respected in the MMA world as a legitimate headliner. Gee, has he ever been?) But, bear with me for a moment: The two men responsible for the show are heavy hitters on the Bollywood scene and there was a lot of Bollywood star power at the first event. I know they enjoyed it, because they continually took the camera off the fights that were taking place to show us beautiful Indian actresses in awe of what they were seeing. So they clearly have the financial means to bring in Rampage. And despite Rampage claiming that he'll fight for free, I highly doubt he actually would. Not only that, but the upstart promotion has already announced dates for its next six shows. The biggest problem they currently have is elite talent, so a guy like Rampage would be just what they need.
And when you think about it, Rampage is perfect for promoting MMA to a new audience. The chain, the howling ... it would be his early days in Pride all over again. Plus, we know Rampage is down for the ladies, and boy, does Super Fight League have ladies. All the beautiful starlets in the front row and the intermission dancing girls would leave him in heaven. Finally, Duffee is exactly the kind of opponent Rampage is looking for. Sure, he's a heavyweight, but Rampage should have no problem putting on weight, especially if he continues to use TRT and eat Japanese fried chicken.
2. Muhammed Lawal -- Strikeforce
When King Mo heals up from the staph infections that have him in rough shape, he's going to need a fight. Rampage and Mo have a history of sniping back and forth, so the fight would garner instant attention. I realize that some of you are going to say "Strikeforce is Zuffa, no way he leaves the UFC and goes to Strikeforce," but consider that Nate Marquardt signed with Strikeforce after being black-listed from the UFC, setting the precedent that fighters with UFC issues are not necessarily out of the question for Strikeforce. Would Rampage be interested in a bout with Mo, a fantastic wrestler? Probably not, but this fight would attract a good deal of attention if it were to happen, which means we can't rule it out.
3. Fedor Emelianenko -- Dream
This would actually be a pretty cool fight to see come to fruition and one that has largely been ignored when it comes to discussions of either man's futurte. Fedor last fought against Satoshi Ishii at the Dream event on New Year's eve. He is looking to fight again in the summer, although he doesn't have an opponent yet. Fedor recently stated that he would have to go to America to fight against top competition, but Fedor making nice with the UFC is almost surely out of the question. Enter Rampage who, just one fight removed from a UFC title fight, would be exactly the top competition Fedor wants. As for Rampage, he'd get his wish to fight someone who won't "just take him down and hump his leg." Should this fight come together it would have the added benefit of getting under the skin of Dana White. This would be a huge fight wherever it took place but especially in Japan; both Fedor and Rampage were huge stars during the Pride era and I'm sure they still have some appeal, even if it is not nearly as great as five years ago.
4. Evander Holyfield -- Boxing
Yeah, I know you just did a double take, but hear me out for a moment. Holyfield is actually still fighting. As recently as last month he spoke of the possibility of a title fight with one of the Klitschko brothers. We have had James Toney vs Randy Couture in MMA, but I honestly can't remember the last time, if ever, a big MMA star has fought a boxer on the boxer's terms. I would be shocked if there weren't at least a few boxing promoters who would be interested in putting this match together. The name value of both fighters alone would make it a big fight wherever it takes place. And when you add in the MMA vs Boxing angle you have a guaranteed money maker. I'd definitely pay to watch this fight even if it took place in Eastern Europe and was broadcast on a cheap Internet stream.
5. Pro Wrestling
Rampage has appeared on WWE Raw before, as a promotional stunt for the A Team movie. I personally would have no interest whatsoever in watching him go down that road in America, but I would be intrigued if Jackson ventured into Japanese Pro Wrestling. I have to admit that I don't know much about the pro-wrestling scene in either America or Japan, but as Quinton still has some star power in Japan, I'm sure that he would be welcomed by any of the current promotions putting on shows. It's worked out for Josh Barnett, among others, so this actually might happen in addition to the other four options already mentioned.
So what do you think Maniacs? Is Rampage headed overseas to compete in MMA? Is he headed to boxing? Who do you think his next fight outside the UFC is going to be against? Does anyone care anymore?