When Quinton Jackson (Pictured) battles Ryan Bader this Saturday at UFC 144, it will mark exactly six years since the last time “Rampage” fought in Japan. While the veteran has appeared in countless classics in The Land of the Rising Sun, there will be a special cheering section in his corner for this weekend’s scrap.
“Fighting in Japan is very important to me, personally. My kids are from Japan, my kids’ grandparents are from there. They’ve never really watched me fight back in the day,” Jackson expressed on a recent conference call.
“My two younger kids can come watch me fight and the in-laws can be in the crowd and watch me fight. I never had that before, so it is something that I want to do.”
Prior to making his Octagon debut in February of 2007, Rampage made his claim to mixed martial arts fame with his epic battles in the Orient. Of his 41 professional fights, 18 of them have taken place in Japan. Although he didn’t always come out on the winning end of the shootouts, the slugger’s charisma and willingness to engage allowed him to become a fan-favorite.
“I love that place,” Rampage flatly stated. “I think I was so popular in Japan because of my fight style. I was young and I didn’t care. I just wanted to put on shows for the crowd and they love that type of stuff.
“I really miss fighting there. So [returning there] was something personal for me.”
December of 2000 was the last time the UFC hosted a show in Japan. However, despite his overwhelming fan base overseas, Rampage was nearly left off the company’s roster and he had to scratch, claw and complain his way into the lineup.
“Well, my manager has informed me not to go into that. That could get me in trouble with some people at the UFC. You guys know I had to fight [to make it] on this card. That’s all I can go into,” Jackson shared.
UFC 144 takes place inside the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Rampage’s tango with Bader will serve as the night’s co-featured attraction.