Well, nobody’s calling for his head yet, but it’s clear that Dana White and Rashad Evans are more than a little disappointed by the latest chapter in the Rampage Done Lost His Mind saga. During an appearance on the Carmichael Dave Show, White claimed that his criticisms of Quinton Jackson‘s acting pursuits were only done with Jackson’s best interests in mind:
"What did I do to Rampage? I talked to him as a friend and tried to talk him out of making a bad decision. He doesn’t think it is, he thinks he’s gonna have a movie career but there’s so many fighters I’ve met over the years who thought they were gonna have movie careers. It’s not like he was going after Machida because he wanted the belt — he didn’t want the belt! He said the belt causes too many problems and he just wanted to fight and make money and feed his family — that’s exactly what he told me. All he’s been telling me since he got into the UFC is that he wants to fight in Memphis in front of his hometown. We make the fight in Memphis and then he pulls out of the fight because he wants to go make this movie because it has so much sentimental value to him.
He’s a fighter, that’s what he does for a living. Now I’m going through all this crap where I got another fighter saying ‘You know what, this isn’t what I wanna do for the rest of my life, I wanna make movies, I wanna be a movie star, this is just a second career for me.’ Like I haven’t seen this one before. Rampage is a grown man. He’s acting like a baby right now but he’s a grown man. He wants to be in the movie business? Rampage, good luck to you man. I hope you make it big — and I’m not being sarcastic because Rampage Jackson is a guy that I do like. But Rampage Jackson is a guy that doesn’t always make the best decisions.”
And once again, as with Chuck Liddell, Dana White is trying to play the role of the Great Father, protecting his big, dumb fighters from themselves. Maybe there’s something admirable in that, though as every child knows, it doesn’t feel good to hear the word "no" when you really, really want something. As for Rampage’s TUF 10 rival coach — hey, episode 2 is on tonight! — Rashad Evans told CageWriter that Jackson should take a breath and reassess the situation with a cool head:
I think that him coming out and saying stuff like that was a bit premature. He’s jumping the gun a little bit. Rampage is a very emotional fighter, a very emotional person, and he just let his emotions take over his rational thinking. I think that him and Dana White just probably need to talk it out, and get past it. I think it’s just a breakdown in communication. Dana’s the kind of guy who is going to say what is on his mind, maybe without thinking it through all the way, before he [says it]. Rampage is a hothead, as well. You get two tempers like that, go at each other like that, it makes the situation hard to work through…
I’d be disappointed not to fight him. It would be a good fight, a fun fight, but mostly because he talked trash. He got me really angry, and I want to fight him just because of that alone. It’s a fight that people want to see. You get your mind wrapped up, and you get your mind so psyched up about fighting a fighter, and then it doesn’t happen, it’s disappointing. That’s why I hate making a fight personal. At the end of the day, we’re professional athletes, and we get paid to do a job. But when you get to fight someone you really want to fight, that’s like a bonus. You’d almost do it for free.
I’d be particularly pissed off if I was Rashad, because the Rampage fight gave him a clear purpose — without Jackson, Evans’s next move is uncertain. Will he be the next light-heavyweight victim of Anderson Silva? Does he take on the winner of Couture vs. Vera? There are options, but none as perfect as a high-profile grudge match to cap off a wild season of TUF, and establish a true pecking order in the light-heavyweight division.