Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and its former light heavyweight champion, Quinton Jackson, are in the midst of an ugly split, and the organization's president, Dana White, doesn't know if the relationship can be mended.
From the rape video "Rampage" hoped would get him released from the UFC to his feelings of being underappreciated and disrespected in the fallout of UFC 144 earlier this year and a reportedly declined Reebok sponsorship, Jackson has made it very, very clear that he is done fighting in the Octagon after his scheduled bout this Saturday night (Jan. 26, 2013) against Glover Teixeira at UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson."
While Jackson has repeatedly claimed mistreatment, White disagrees. In fact, the UFC's head honcho believes his company has been very helpful to "Rampage" over the course of his nearly six-year stint under the UFC banner.
"I don't know [if Saturday will be Jackson's last UFC fight], we'll see what happens," White told MMAmania.com at Wednesday's UFC 158 press conference (watch it in full here) in Montreal. "I mean I got to answer this question the way I answer all ‘Rampage' Jackson questions. You never know where you are with the guy, you know, if you ask me, do I think we've treated ‘Rampage' Jackson well? I think we've been great to ‘Rampage' Jackson. Financially, personally, professionally and every other way you can be cool to a guy."
Despite Jackson being one of the UFC's biggest draws over the past few years, headlining or co-headlining a UFC show in nine of his last 11 fights, White is not going to plead with the 34-year-old to re-sign with his company.
If "Rampage" wants to wash his hands of the UFC after Saturday night, the organization will do the same. White just hopes wherever Jackson lands next is a place that satisfies his every need and brings him true happiness.
"It's one of those deals where me and Lorenzo [Fertitta] love what we do, we love being involved and we love doing great things and growing the sport, making guys more money, doing all the things that we've done over the last 13 years, but at the end of the day, any job you have, I don't care what you do for a living, you have to be happy with what you're doing and be happy with the people you're doing it with," he said. "And if ‘Rampage' isn't happy with us then what are we going to do? The guy needs to go somewhere where the people make him happy."
As far as the Reebok sponsorship goes, White insists there was no foul play or attempts to block Jackson from making money. It simply comes down to the UFC's sponsorship policies, which White insinuates Reebok did not follow; therefore, the company is unable to sponsor "Rampage" in the cage.
"It's the same old stuff," White explained. "It's no different than any other sponsorship, I mean we work just like every other league works. You don't just wear whatever you want, you have to have approved sponsors and they're not one, you know? Like I said, maybe ‘Rampage' can go find people that he's happy to work with. He's not happy working with us."
Although it appears the Jackson-UFC split is essentially a done deal, White isn't going to completely count out reconciliation. When you consider the fact White made amends with another former UFC light heavyweight champion in Tito Ortiz after their drawn-out, highly publicized issues, patching things up with Jackson doesn't exactly seem absurd.
"Listen, when Tito was on his way out I kind of let you know how I felt about Tito back in the day," White said. "You know me and if I don't like somebody and I'm not whatever -- the thing is with ‘Rampage' is you just never know where you're at with him, you know?"
UFC on FOX 6: "Johnson vs. Dodson" goes down form the United Center in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 26, 2013. In addition to Jackson vs. Teixeira, a flyweight championship bout serves as the main event as Demetrious Johnson takes on John Dodson, while Anthony Pettis and Donald Cerrone are set to clash in a lightweight grudge match.