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The Unpopular Opinion: Let Fighters Be Actors…For As Long As They Can Pull It Off

Rampage JacksonMr. T
(Someone’s got big bracelets to fill.)

Fighting and acting have at least one thing in common: most people see trained professionals in action so often that it makes them think the job is a lot easier than it really is.  That could be part of what’s luring fighters like “Rampage” Jackson and Gina Carano out of the cage and onto the movie set.  Money is also a big part of it, as is the opportunity to get paid without getting beaten up.  The downside, at least for the fans, is that we have about as much interest in seeing our favorite fighters act as we do in seeing our favorite actors fight. 

No, I take that back.  I’d much rather see Val Kilmer get in the cage than watch Randy Couture glare his way through another “Scorpion King” movie, but I digress.

The point is, our frustration with this growing trend is entirely selfish.  We want fighters to fight, because that’s why we care about them in the first place.  It’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s a job for them.  If they get offered another job that’s easier – physically, at least – and pays similarly or even better than the old one, they don’t owe it to us to turn it down.  Not unless we’re willing to pay them even when they’re too old to climb into the cage.

Sure, that’s bound to disappoint us from time to time.  Not only do we have to put up with postponed fights (looking at you, ‘Page) and endless absences from the sport (you too, Cung), but we’re also eventually forced to witness how bad they almost certainly are at acting.  I mean, have you seen “Midnight Meat Train”?  Let’s just say that Quinton Jackson isn’t going to be playing Othello any time soon.

But in a way, that’s also the good news.  Chances are fighters can’t act well enough to make a steady living at it.  Chances are they’re actually pretty terrible at it.  They get the parts because they have some measure of celebrity, which is also why they can’t put off acting until their fighting days are over.  They have to make that money while Hollywood producers still believe in their ability to get 18-34 year-old men into the theaters based on name value alone.

When it comes to athletes-turned-actors, there’s a qualitative scale.  On the high end you’ve got Jim Brown, who walked away from an NFL career after nine seasons and who actually had (or at least developed) the acting chops to get by.  On the other end of the scale you have Shaquille O’Neal.  You see “Kazaam”?  That’s a rhetorical question.  No one saw that movie.

What I’m saying here is that, much like the girlfriend who dumped you because she thought she was much more attractive than she really was, our favorite fighters will be back.  Maybe the time off will hurt their performances when they do return, but maybe that’s for the best.  A couple KO losses could serve as effective cautionary tales. 

If MMA fighters like Jackson and Carano want to try their hand at acting, we have to let them go.  We should even try to be happy for them.  They’re getting paid without getting hurt, for a change.  Let them enjoy it while it lasts.  Something tells me that when “Rampage” proves to be the inferior thespian even when compared to a predecessor who was more catch-phrase than craft, that gravy train is going to come to a screeching halt.

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tallkitchenbags- September 10, 2009 at 3:20 pm
that should have been kimbo's role.
tallkitchenbags- September 10, 2009 at 3:18 pm
(va)gina can act all she wants as long as her role consists of showing her tits.

tim sylvia can have non-acting, mask-wearing roles where he hacks people to death.

rumpage should be in jail for killing babies.
Titos Head- September 10, 2009 at 8:50 am
I think he can do it...hes a funny guy. Just watch him and Rashad. lol
Da Spied Her- September 10, 2009 at 6:55 am
As long as Gina gets nekkid, I have no problem with it.
Smitty- September 10, 2009 at 6:45 am
After all this dialogue, the most important question remains. Will he rock the mohawk?
J-Dog- September 10, 2009 at 6:11 am
I wonder what the Vegas odds are on the 'Page pulling off B.A.? You know, the dude does have a lot of charisma, and he is kind of a walking B.A. in real life. It might not be much of a stretch and he may do a great job at it. I give it 50/50 odds that he sucks or is actually pretty good (with this particular role only).
LargeMidget- September 10, 2009 at 1:04 am
The best athlete turned actor is The Rock, hands down. I bet he whoop some jabronies in the UFC too.

If you smell what The Rock is cookin.
Rychek Wins- September 10, 2009 at 12:24 am
Dont worry guys, the black on black crime never stops. We'll eventually get to see it.
Barc- September 9, 2009 at 11:36 pm
Take a look around, fellas. You at work? Don't sit and pick Ramapge apart for letting his focus drift from his job, that's bullshit. I say, do that thing, Rampage. Take the money. Come back and fight Rashad with an extra few hundred Gs in your pocket.
ReDx- September 9, 2009 at 11:27 pm
What about Carl Weathers? The guy was Apollo Creed but was a Raider first.
ReDx- September 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm
I have no problem with a fighter acting, the only thing I disagree with is that he canceled a scheduled fight before he took the role. He's a fighter first, actor second. Do that shit in your down time.
KillDozer- September 9, 2009 at 9:29 pm
I should also mention Aaron Brink? Awesome acting skillz.
KillDozer- September 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm
what??? Jim Brown a good actor? Have you seen OJ Simpson's movies? The dude deserved an Oscar!
itsgalf- September 9, 2009 at 9:26 pm
how about The Rock/Dwayne Johnson? Besides 'The Scorpion King', he's not too bad of an actor.
JackBauer- September 9, 2009 at 8:53 pm
Um, how can you forget the greatest athlete-turned-actor of all time?

Two words:

Space Jam
Krazy Kracker- September 9, 2009 at 8:25 pm
Nobody is madder about this decision than Dana and people who love a hyped fight. I recall a Hughes/Serra TUF season where after an extremely disappointing season we get a postponed coaches fight that lost so much momentum by the time it was fought people had forgotten about the hatred between the two, a loss or two makes people doubt the fighters' talents and the fight barely makes the main card. That was due to an injury, which sucks, but is unavoidable. This is due to.....? I guess an easy payday as a few of you and even the Bens have said? Don't let anyone tell you money is not a big motivation for these fighters, but when it is your sole motivation you cannot help but question that person's desire and question if even their well-publicized ill intentions are legitimate. Rampage just lost a lot of points in my book as far as the fighter goes, but he is one hell of an ambitious promotor/entrepreneur.
Alex in Toronto- September 9, 2009 at 8:17 pm
Whilst some salient points are being made, maybe he (Rampage) didn't know? Maybe his agent nailed the deal last minute. It can happen. In any case, you're right, a fight I and fight fans were looking forward to watching has been postponed, bummer.

itsgalf- September 9, 2009 at 8:01 pm
I don't think most people would have a problem with it if it wasn't for it postponing the Rashad fight. It's kind of a dick move
Clayton- September 9, 2009 at 6:58 pm
It kinda seems like you're missing the point. Jackson easily could have announced this before the hype re: his bout with Rashad. He could have done any number of things to make this something that wasn't a purely shitty thing to do, still been a fighter and an actor, and not annoyed most of his fans.

I mean, I already think the guy's a classless idiot, but I've supported other fighters, as much as a fan can, in their quest for acting $$, so long as they do it without pissing on their fans.
Bovice- September 9, 2009 at 6:54 pm
@BM2

Name one single person besides yourself that has typed "AND DEY SHOULD FIGHT EVERY WEEKEND BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ANY PLANS AN I'M GOING TO BORED HURRRRRRRR", because I can't.
BM2- September 9, 2009 at 6:48 pm
Thanks for this article. Too often, people only see the fighter as a person-who-fights and judge their worth on that alone. Opportunities to consider the human being behind the gloves are rare.


Instead, you get a whole bunch of people saying stuff like "HURRRR EVERYONE SHOULD BE IN DA UFC SO DAT WE HAVE DA MOST AWESOMEST FIGHTS. AND DEY SHOULD FIGHT EVERY WEEKEND BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE ANY PLANS AN I'M GOING TO BORED HURRRRRRRR"
Horror Fighter- September 9, 2009 at 6:47 pm
They're allowing Rampage to improvise his role. In the opening scene, B.A. -- fueled by a diet entirely of energy drinks -- drives the A-Team van wildly and hits a bunch of cars. They all flip over, yet their passengers miraculously crawl out unharmed. Except for one pregnant woman...

As for the whole "fight vs. acting" thing, I could care less. I don't blame guys for wanting to make good money without risking physical harm. MMA is dangerous; acting isn't (unless, sadly, you're Brandon Lee).

The Rampage thing only bothers me because of commitment. If the UFC filmed an entire TUF series because you agreed that, as part of the payoff, you would fight Rashad, then I expect you to keep your word.
mynameisalsoben- September 9, 2009 at 6:35 pm
I understand that this is a great opportunity for 'Page from a money/fame standpoint, and for that reason I agree it's understandable why he'd take it. BUT he can't expect the fight fans to stick with him and not view this as a smack in the face. First and foremost, he is a fighter. And it's one thing to take an acting gig when you don't have a fight booked, but he had a super-hyped fight coming up with Rashad in December (which already seems far away) and now who knows when/if that fight will happen. I mean he turned down an immediate title shot so he could fight Rashad! Here's a fair assessment of his priorities:
1. Be a movie star
2. Fight Rashad (and still be kind of a TV star)
3. Fight for the belt

Every fighter should have their #1 goal/priority to be the champ. When it's obviously that far down the list for Rampage then it becomes very hard to respect him as a fighter IMO. So good for you Rampage, this is a great opportunity and it'll probably open lots of doors for you, but you can't seriously expect the fight fans to stick by you on this one.
Komodo- September 9, 2009 at 6:29 pm
Ugh.
Alex in Toronto- September 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm
I like watching Rampage fight but how can you deny the guy a chance at a major movie? He'll make a load of cash, I bet most of you would do the same. I would. Take the money and run. If he's as much use as an ashtray on a bike, who cares? He's laughing all the way to the proverbial. Good for him.
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