(‘So basically my plan is…[zzzz]…whoa, sorry about that. Sometimes the monotonous sound of my own voice makes me nod off in the middle of sentences.’)
If there’s one thing we’ve learned by watching "Rampage" Jackson over the years, it’s that while he’s a tough-as-nails fighter and a natural entertainer, at times he seems to lack some basic reasoning skills and the ability to conceive of a future that is shaped by his decisions in the present. Maybe that’s why he made such poor use of the opportunity to pick the first fight on this season of "The Ultimate Fighter," or maybe it’s because he and Tiki spent too much time during fighter evaluations making fun of dudes and throwing the word "titties" around. Either way, as Abe Wagner tells the story in his Fight Magazine blog, Jackson made some serious miscalculations when choosing to put Wagner up against John Madsen, and everybody saw it but "Rampage" himself:
Right after our team was formed, Rampage asked who wanted to fight right away, and me and one or two other guys raised their hands. Nothing really further was decided at that time, but about a half hour before the first fight announcement (and incidentally before we even had our first team practice) he approached me and told me he wanted me to fight first. I told him I was game and asked who he had in mind.
He told me John Madsen. I told him that while my stand up was good and my jiu jitsu was decent, my wrestling needed work and sometimes I’ll have trouble with a good wrestler. He told me he thought Madsen was only an average wrestler and not to worry about it. It turns out he’s a two-time national champion wrestler and that’s possibly the understatement of the year for me. I still didn’t think it was a good match up for me, but at some point, you just have to say that you’re there to fight and fight whoever is chosen for you. I just didn’t get why if we had control, he wouldn’t have picked someone I matched up better with. I didn’t think it was a very good strategic move for me or Team Rampage.
What’s happening here seems to be a simple miscommunication. Maybe "Rampage" is just so used to training with and competing against high-level fighters that Madsen really is just an "average" wrestler to him. I mean, come on, only a two-time national champ? What was he doing the other two years of college, doing gravity bongs and playing ultimate frisbee?
Okay, so maybe Coach Jackson should have gone the safe route and picked a stylistic mismatch that actually favored his team, but where’s the fun in that? Plus, in order for that to work, he would have needed to really know who the guys on the other team were, and anybody who saw his confusion when trying to figure out who Madsen was and whether he was really the guy they wanted to fight knows there might have been an issue there. But give the guy a break. It’s the first week and he’s got a lot to think about, like which Vegas nightclub has the best stanky leg facilities.