What Went Down:
Jackson was scheduled to fight Rashad Evans (13-1-1) this December at UFC 107. It was to be the culmination of their time spent as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 10: Heavyweights.
Just prior to last week's UFC 103, Rampage announced that he would be unable to fight in December because he'd accepted the role of B.A. Baracus in the new, big-budget A-Team movie.
The sudden loss of a drawing fight for UFC 107 left the UFC scrambling. As a result, B.J. Penn (14-5-1) vs. Diego Sanchez (21-2) was pushed back from UFC 105 to fill the spot at UFC 107. A new fight, Randy Couture (16-10) vs. Brandon Vera (11-3), had to be signed to fill the main event slot at UFC 105.
Anyone familiar with Dana White's modus operandi should know that the UFC president had plenty to say about Jackson's decision. Including, but not limited to:
Rampage is a guy that we’ve obviously taken under our wing over the last few years, we really like him and we’ve really done a lot of good things for him. And for him to do this to me and to pull out and do this goofy A-Team movie man, I’m not happy about it all…They’re not paying him jack. He’s giving up literally millions of dollars to play Mr. T. …Rampage is somebody I consider a friend, he put me in a bad position and I’m not happy about it. He hurt himself, he hurt us. Sometimes, seriously, you have to save these guys from themselves. What he’s doing makes no sense whatsoever.
A few days after Dana made those comments, Jackson dropped the bombshell heard 'round the MMA world:
I'm not like Randy Couture. My body has been getting so many different injuries that I wont be able to fight until my forties & neither do I want to fight that long. So I feel like my second career could be in jeopardy.. so I'm done fighting... I'm gonna miss all my loyal fans but hopefully they'll follow me to my new career & I will gain more loyal fans along the way. & all you hater fans out there can kiss my big black hairy ass! & anybody that don't like what I just said can come try to kick my ass!
That all sounds pretty final, but mere days later Jackson posted this on his official site:
I feel like this whole situation could have been avoided if UFC would have respected me more & rescheduled the fight about a month or more in my hometown, which I know fights can be rescheduled because of the Matt Hughes & Matt Serra was postponed due to injuries. Instead, Dana went on the internet & started talking bad about my decision... I feel like I'm being disrespected. Everything is not about how much money you make. You could be the richest man in the world but if nobody respects you then it don't mean shit.
In the end, the two sides don't seem very far apart. Personally, I think a deal can be reached that will result in "Rampage" returning to the octagon in early 2010.
For one thing, Jackson stands to rake in a huge payday from a fight with Rashad. He can say what he wants about money not buying respect, but, at the same time, almost everyone's got a price. Besides that, I believe Quinton genuinely dislikes Rashad, which means he'll be reluctant to forgo the opportunity to, legally and repeatedly, punch Evans in the head.
More on this story as it develops.