Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is one of MMA’s most charismatic stars, but the UFC light heavyweight champ has also become one of the world’s best fighters since moving from Pride to the UFC. In this exclusive interview, “Rampage” discusses his evolution as an athlete, his upcoming title fight against Forrest Griffin, and what he hates most about life as an MMA fighter.
CagePotato.com: Hey, “Rampage.” Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. How is your training camp going? I hear that you really don’t like training.
“Rampage” Jackson: That’s true. I hate training. I don’t know why. I guess because I’m lazy. I do it anyway and I train really hard, but I hate every minute of it.
If you hate it so much, how do you get through weeks of it without losing your mind before every fight?
I joke around and have fun in the gym. I like to have fun people around me. It helps me get through it. I also think about what I’m going to do to my opponent, how I’m going to take it out on him for making me do all this training.
How have you been preparing specifically for Forrest? What are you expecting out of him?
I’ve just been training to whip his ass. Other than that I don’t really know. I think he’s probably going to try and use those leg kicks and keep moving. He’s pretty good with leg kicks. But I’m pretty sure that after I hit him a couple of times he’ll forget about all that.
It seems like you’ve become a much different fighter in the last couple of years, ever since coming to the UFC. You look more polished and more technical. What do you think has made the difference?
Well, now I’m more mature. I’ve got better trainers and better sparring partners. I’m training harder and my hands are a lot better. I’ve been training my boxing a lot more. Back in the day I had amateur guys training me and now I’ve got a professional training me. That makes a big difference.
On “The Ultimate Fighter” they made it seem like you weren’t really interested in being a coach. They showed you sleeping on the mat, stuff like that. Was that an accurate portrayal of your time on the show?
I fell asleep on the mat. It happened. They showed it.
I did my best. You know, I was in it. I did my best. But I’m not a coach. I’m a fighter.
What do you think Forrest Griffin does well as a fighter?
That’s a hard question. Let me think. I think he puts together kicks pretty good. I’ll give him that. He kicks better than me. He’s got better leg kicks, but that’s it.
Is there a lot of extra pressure now that you’re the champ? The only place to go is down. How do you deal with that?
I don’t even worry about pressure. Not at all. My job’s to fight. I don’t even think about being champion. Somebody beats me and takes my belt, okay, that’d be a sad day for me, but then I just start working to get the belt back.
What’s the hardest part about being an MMA fighter?
The hardest part of being an MMA fighter is when you fight and then the government takes half your money for taxes. Some of the fights it’s like you go out there and almost didn’t even get paid for it.
Uncle Sam didn’t do a damn thing for you, but then takes half your money. They ain’t taking no punches. They ain’t doing none of that. I know the government calls it taxes, but I call it pimping. I don’t mind helping out, doing my part. I don’t mind that. But don’t take half my damn money.
What’s the most memorable fight of your career so far?
My most memorable fight is always the fight that I had last. That’s the one that’s the clearest for me. I don’t really think about all those other fights too much.
I look at it like my job. When you’re working in a grocery store bagging groceries, what’s the most memorable bag of groceries that you bagged? This is a job for me.
What are the chances that we’ll see you and Wanderlei Silva fight again in the UFC? Would you like a chance to avenge your losses against him?
I don’t know. If Wanderlei keeps winning and if I keep winning, we might get to do it again. I don’t know, I’m not psychic. But yeah, I would love to fight Wanderlei. I’d love to fight all of them. I don’t care who.