Even before Quinton “Rampage” Jackson became the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, has was never one to lack ambition, he just lacked the work ethic. Rampage always wanted to be great, but never wanted to put forth the effort that it took to get there.
Most of the time, a fight is won and lost well before fighters enter into the arena. Before the fans back the stands and the lights turn on the outcome may have already been determined in an empty gym, when the fighter is there competing against his toughest opponent of all, himself.
That was a former opponent Rampage could never beat. In fact, it was one that owned him. Everything changed when a light went off in his head and he figured out what he needed to do to get where he wanted to go.
“It depends on how hard I train,” the Champion stated. “When I know that I trained real hard and I had a good training camp, that’s when I’m very confident. But sometimes I don’t train hard and I don’t feel that confident.”
And in the fighting world, confidence is everything. Confidence, or even the aura of confidence alone can win you a fight. Early on in his career, Rampage was an inconsistent performer. Just when you thought he was ready to make the jump to the next level, he would lose to a lesser opponent.
But the bumps and bruises along the way taught him quite a bit, and in fact has helped him get to where he is today.
“It made me hungrier and stronger in training and made me meaner,” Rampage said. “It worked out perfectly. Everything happens for a reason.”
He is so dedicated to his profession now, he sticks to his training regimen 24/7, literally. Even the most dedicated of fighters allow themselves the luxury of some relaxation. But not Rampage.
“I don’t have a cheat day,” he said. “That’s what I get for getting so fat (before).”
Rampage will be taking his new found attitude into the Octagon this weekend at UFC 86, as he will be defending his title against Forrest Griffin. And Rampage knows that he has his hands full.
“A tough guy. A guy who don’t quit. I like guys like that,” he said of Griffin.
“He got good quick, that’s something I noticed. He went from a guy that was just kind of brawling to all of a sudden he could defend submissions and he was taking people down, Thai-clinching people,” he added.
As coaches on this past season’s The Ultimate Fighter they got to get a feel for each other, but by no means did they become friends.
“Nothing changed. I don’t really know Forrest that well,” Jackson said. “He’s a cool guy, but he’s an opponent.”
This opponent will be nothing like the one that used to dominate him in the gym every day. He has found a way to conquer that opponent, and if all goes well, he will do the same to Griffin.