In UFC president Dana White’s latest Blog, he gives fans exclusive behind the scenes access to conversations he had with participants from this past weekend’s UFC 96 event in Columbus, Ohio. Of particular interest is his post-fight locker room chat with former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, where White offers him first shot at Rashad Evans’ title at UFC 98.
“I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you,” White told Rampage. “Here’s the good news; (you won) Fight of the Night, you won tonight, it’s all good [expletive].”
White then added, “The bad news is we want to know if you wanna fight Rashad May 23rd?”
After witnessing the intense face-to-face smack talking and stare down between Jackson and Evans, White thought that Rampage would have jumped at the chance to reclaim his title.
“How many weeks away is that?” the former champ asked White.
“It’s like 2 and a half months,” White responded. “That’s saying you’re 100% healthy and everything is good after tonight.”
And there lies the root of the Rampage’s hesitation to accepting the title bout. A May 23rd battle would mark his third fight in only a five month span, a schedule that is far too demanding to ask of anyone. In addition, he would now have to prepare for a 5Round title affair instead of a standard 15-minute fight.
“When can I tell you?” Rampage asked. “Because basically, I over trained for this fight. I could tell, straight up.”
White offered his employee and friend some advice, ending it with a nudge hoping that Rampage would bite.
“Well you should go home, take two weeks off and then get back into camp again, that’s what you do. You’re gonna be an England living [expletive].”
In an attempt to hedge his bet, White mentioned that if Rampage wouldn’t be able to take the fight, they are prepared to move forward with Plan B.
“Let’s say you can’t or don’t want to take the fight then Machida would take the fight,” he said. “But we won’t make the decision until you go to the doctor and get your [expletive] checked out and make sure you okay.”
Rampage immediately stood up and let White know that if they really need him, he will be there for them like they always have been for him.
“You know I’ve got your back, man,” Rampage said while he embraced White.
As a true friend, White respond back by saying, “I know, but I don’t want you doing something that you don’t feel comfortable doing.”
Although Machida is just as, if not more, worthy of a title shot than anyone, the UFC would clearly favor a Rashad-Rampage matchup over a Rashad-Machida battle. Machida is talented, however his elusive style and inability to speak English makes it a much more difficult sell for the organization.
The conversation ended with Rampage saying that he will take a couple days off to think it over with his manager and let White know.