Bellator MMA returns to Spike TV this February, and in preparation for its tenth season, the promotion was in Brooklyn, New York, at the movie warehouse Cinema World, to shoot all the promotional footage to be used for the upcoming season.
Almost the entire roster of fighters was present, shooting various still shot poses and pad-hitting videos on two sound stages. Standing out among them, was one of Bellator's newest and biggest stars, Quinton Jackson.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion has always had a very strong presence about him and all eyes were following him wherever he went on this day. He grabbed a seat on one of the weight benches on the production set, to talk to MMAmania.com about several topics.
First up on the docket: The knockout dry spell.
Jackson's technical knockout victory over Joey Beltran at Bellator 108 last November was not only his first win in over two and a half years; it was his first knockout since separating Wanderlei Silva from consciousness over five years ago at UFC 92.
"That was the first knockout that you guys seen in five years," Jackson said. "Sometimes I knock out guys in sparring, but you guys don't get to see that. It's been a long time since I knocked somebody out where it counts, in a fight."
"I have this thing that I do when I'm training. If my knees are good I can do them and it gives me that snap that I need to knock people out. I don't really want to share it just yet, because I don't want my opponent to be doing the same thing one day and be training the way I train and end up knocking me out. When I'm good, I can do good stuff."
Jackson's fight against Beltran was the healthiest that the 14-year veteran has been in a long time, and it showed. He has fought injured several times throughout his career, the most notable occasion being his UFC 144 loss to Ryan Bader in Japan.
"Rampage" said that the lure of the Japanese fans and returning to where his glory days of being in the PRIDE organization took place were just "too good to resist." He explained what it was like heading into a fight and knowing he had limitations on what he could do.
"What it does is, it hurts you mentally," Jackson said. "It messes you up mentally. It kind of hinders you from doing certain things. At the same time, I was a little bit arrogant. I just thought I could still beat Bader with an injured knee. His wrestling was just far better than I expected. You shouldn't try to fight anybody with... I figured it would be my last time fighting in Japan, so I just took a chance. I regret it though. I should've just sat that one out and I wouldn't have a loss to Bader on my record... sucks..."
Jackson's honestly and candidness during the interview was quite refreshing. He has often complained about wrestlers like Bader in the past, mostly due to his preference of wanting to stand and trade with his opponents. He made it clear it's not all wrestlers that bother him, just certain types.
"A lot of fans get confused when I talk of not wanting to fight wrestlers," Jackson explained. "I don't mind fighting wrestlers if they are going to take me down and keep fighting, and try and submit me. I don't want to fight a guy who is going to lay there and dry hump you and try to win on a boring decision. I'm here to put on fights. My job is to fight. I would rather fight guys who would put on an exciting fight, who are going to make it more exciting."
At the time of the interview, the announcement of Jackson entering the Season 10 light heavyweight tournament and being matched up against former Bellator champion Christian M'Pumbu on February 28th had not been made (more on that here). However, he did say that he wanted to get back in the cage "as soon as possible."
Although it is a four-man tournament and not an eight-man tournament, the fact that he is in a tournament at all is something that many people did not see happening when he signed to Bellator last summer. The 35-year-old fighter is much closer to the end of his career than the beginning and now that he is fully healthy again, it looks like he is trying to fight as much as he can before he calls it a day on his fighting career.
"I just like getting out there in the cage and fighting," he said. "I want to stay active and fight more now. You are right. I am not getting any younger. The more I fight, the more I stay in shape. Everybody knows that after my fights, sometimes I've been known to blow up. I'm like a big kid. I have zero discipline. I'm like a 15-year-old kid trapped in a 35-year-old man's body. It's bad."
After he made that comment, he was asked if he was drawn to the craft service area that was provided for the fighters and media for the day, which by the way, was pretty amazing.
"No, It's not even that I eat bad," Jackson answered. "Well, I do eat bad sometimes, it's just sometimes after I was injured I wouldn't train after my fights. Now, I keep training."
The most Jackson has ever ballooned up to?
"One time I got to 265," admitted Jackson." As shocking as that was to hear, the time he tipped the scales at the maximum cut off for the heavyweight division wasn't even after he filmed The A-Team, where he put his stamp on the character made famous by Mr. T, B.A. Baracus.
"I didn't get that big after The A-Team. I was big, but not that big," he said. "The A-Team, I got so big because if was five months of shooting, and I couldn't train because I had fake tattoos on me and a damn wig on my hair. I brought a trainer, my teammate Tom Blackledge to come out there and train with me, but I couldn't. I had the "Pity the fool" tattoo on my hand and those tattoos took like three hours and they had makeup all over my arm."
Working out and having them wear off would've gotten him "in trouble," he said.
"You have to sit there with your arm up for hours like this," Jackson continued raising his arm. "So for five months I couldn't train. I could've woke my ass up and ran in the morning but I had to be on set at 4 or 5 AM. So fuck that. At the end of the day I could've ran, but then I got done working sometimes and I was tired. So for five months my ass didn't do shit but gain weight and eat."
Perhaps being that heavy is why the career 205'er has sometimes talked about fighting at heavyweight since joining Bellator. The fight against Joey Beltran at Bellator 108 was at a catch weight of 210 pounds, but that was most likely due to it taking place only two weeks after Tito Ortiz had to withdraw from the originally planned pay-per-view main event at Bellator 106, due to injury.
"I would like to fight heavyweight," Jackson stated. "When Tito got hurt, I asked them to give me a heavyweight, I guess that's why they gave me Beltran. They still want me to fight at 205. I guess they like me being at 205. Maybe I'm a small heavyweight. I'm kind of short. They have some big guys in there. Maybe they don't see me fitting in at heavyweight."
If Jackson is to tangle with any heavyweights, it will most likely be inside the squared circle of TNA Wrestling, where he has already been dipping his toes into the water (video). A wrestling fan since a young child, Jackson admitted to never thinking he would become an MMA fighter, but now he gets to do both.
Even though he gets to live out a childhood dream with his Viacom deal, he takes it very seriously, has a ton of respect for what the other wrestlers endure in their chosen profession and "just wants to learn the craft."
"People don't understand how tough it is," Jackson says shaking his head. "It hurts. It hurts hitting the ropes. Getting slammed... All that stuff hurts. It's like being a live stunt man."
"You have to keep going," he continued. "I saw a guy get hurt. I saw it with my own two eyes. The guy got hurt and he still had to keep going. He got hurt for real and then later they put him back stage and took him to the hospital. You have to trust the other guy not to hurt you. I'm second-guessing, what if that shit happened to me and then I have to go fight?"
After expressing some of his injury concerns, the pro wrestling novice said there are definitely moves he "wouldn't mind doing," like getting hit with a chair. However, he's not getting much crazier than that saying flying through tables from the top turnbuckle is "crazy."
"I really respect those guys," he said with conviction. "A lot of people hate on pro wrestling. They say ‘that's fake.' It's not really fake. It's entertainment. It's not really fake, but if they want to hate on pro wrestlers and call it fake then they shouldn't watch any action movies at all. Action movies are the fakest things."
Speaking of action movies, aside from his breakout role as B.A. in The A-Team, Jackson has 14 other credits under his belt including Never Surrender, Death Warrior and a cameo as a driver in the hit CBS series King of Queens. Being under the Viacom umbrella will have him continue to fight, learn to wrestle, and has also opened the door with Paramount Pictures.
According to Jackson, something new is coming soon.
"We are working on some things at Viacom with Paramount Pictures," Jackson said with excitement. "We are putting together a cool movie script for your guys. I think the MMA fans are really going to like that. We are getting everything right. We are not rushing anything. They are doing everything right. I think you fans are really going to like what we got going."
"Rampage" maintains his stance that he is a "traditional MMA guy and "would love to fight anybody," no matter "who it is." He has already been there and done that in regards to anything and everything a fighter can experience in their respective career. As his MMA career winds down, he has experienced a dream of becoming a professional wrestler, and is continuing to pursue future movie roles.
A trifecta of a career, that would leave all of us feeling like a "15-year-old kid trapped in a man's body," too.