For those out of the loop, I am now officially an award-winning writer. I decided to blow right past the Pulitzers and win a much more important distinction. Last week I was given an “Honorable Mention” in the first White Elephant Essay Contest hosted by the boys of the Co-Main Event Podcast.
The podcast stars Chad Dundas and Ben Fowlkes, two of the best MMA writers in the biz. The hour-long podcast consists of the two Montana residents bantering back and forth about topics ranging from Phil Baroni’s day to day life to Frankie Edgar’s future career path. The two can go from handicapping Urijah Faber’s chances at ever getting another title shot to discussing Fowlkes penchant for sexism in a split second. The result? Pure entertainment.
Of course, when they announced they would be holding an essay contest, my creative senses began tingling. After the duo revealed the rules of the contest, I immediately began crafting my masterwork. I decided to write about an athlete that both guys seemingly detest, and coincidently that I revere. Who would that athlete be? You guessed it, I wrote an essay about Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson. I wanted to celebrate the fighter that Jackson is and try to distance fans’ memories from the guy that has fallen into general disfavor of late. Here is the essay that won me an “Honorable Mention”:
“PRIDE and Prejudice: The Curious Case of Rampage Jackson
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has become the resident malcontent of the UFC’s roster. He has taken to whining about opponents and money whenever given the opportunity. This displeasure has lead Jackson to declare that his next bout will be his last with the promotion. From the ‘energy drink’ incident to molesting reporters, it would be easy to understand why Uncle Dana would be happy to let Jackson walk away. All things considered, I believe that Zuffa is greatly undervaluing Rampage as an asset. If we take away Jackson’s questionable media management, he is simply put, the greatest fighter the sport has ever seen. What?!? The guy that made an instructional video on “How to pick up a Gurl”[i] that involved chloroform and zip-ties? Yes, that guy! Jackson is a dynamic figure that is unrivaled in MMA. Sure, Anderson is more skilled in the cage and GSP may train a bit harder, but Rampage is different. He is a bona fide star outside of the ring and a stone cold killer when the cage door closes. He has put on some of the most exciting performances in the history of the sport while consistently competing against the elite. He has a flair for the dramatic that is surely one of a kind.
On the last episode of The MMA Week Hour, Jim Ross touched on the fact that MMA suffers from a lack of star power. I couldn’t agree more. With Chael’s recent Billy Graham fueled run to multiple title shots, there should be a trend of bombastic characters popping up across the landscape. Oddly enough, there isn’t… Rampage is one of the few guys left on the roster that can jump on the mic and cut a buzz worthy sound bite. There is a reason he has been featured on TUF twice as a coach when he admittedly doesn’t enjoy coaching. He is pure ENTERTAINMENT. The guy has even parlayed his wolf-howling, chain-wearing character into major Hollywood cash. He was widely panned for pulling out of his fight with Rashad Evans in 2009 to film The A-Team, but in hindsight it was actually a smart decision. The film grossed over $175 million at the worldwide box office[ii], and his performance of B.A. Baracus wasn’t all that bad. Dana White even went on the record saying that “Rampage made the right decision”[iii]. Jackson is one of the few crossover stars that MMA has to offer. Have any other active (counts out Couture and Carano…)fighters starred in major Hollywood hits? Don’t think so. Rampage is an authentic crossover icon.
Rampage’s slam knockout of Ricardo Arona in 2004 is considered to be one of the greatest finishes of all time. That KO epitomizes the mix of athleticism and power that turned me into a UG lurker and Podcast junkie. There is no question that anytime Rampage enters the ring you can expect fisticuffs and fireworks. Whether he is knocking guys out, or getting his face caved in by Wanderlei’s knees, you are simply not sitting down when Quinton fights. Even in his recent lackluster performance against Ryan Bader, Rampage still managed to get us off our butts with a vintage highlight slam. In 42 career fights, 27 ended with some sort of stoppage. Win or lose the guy puts on a freakin’ show. Lately, Rampage has been a victim of wrestlers who prefer to control him on the mat and neutralize his boxing. Jackson expressed his issues with said fighters on InsideMMA, “And now, the UFC’s just throwing me all these boring fighters, these game planners, these wrestlers. I’m the type of fighter who you should match up with people who want to fight excitingly. You know what I’m saying? Cuz I’m gonna be the type of fighter who puts butts in seats.”[iv] Jackson finally got his wish for a true slobber knocker as he is booked to “finish” his UFC career against slugger Glover Teixeira. This may be an attempt to bury the disgruntled star by the UFC, but Jackson simply doesn’t care.[v] He just wants to put on a show.
Fighting a guy like Glover is nothing new for Rampage. If you look at his career resume, Rampage can measure up to damn near anyone. Jackson absolutely ravaged through the usual PRIDE suspects. Sure, losses to studs like Shogun and Wanderlei are highlight reel fodder for the hardcores, but for every tough loss there is a masterful knockout to counter with. After a divorce from PRIDE and a pit stop at WFA, Rampage decided to take his talents to the UFC. He quickly won and defended the promotion’s Light Heavyweight title. Following a confusing Championship loss to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, Rampage was confronted with the opportunity to avenge his losses to his greatest foe. At UFC 92, Jackson viciously knocked out Wanderlei Silva. Jackson considers this the highlight of his career[vi]. Wandy may have been over the hill, but as the lovely Margaret Thatcher said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Of late, Rampage has run into the same brick wall that every other 205er has crashed into, Jon Jones. Rampage was game to take a shot at Bones’ belt, but he simply couldn’t best the Champ. As you look down Quinton’s career record, you cannot think of anyone that he hasn’t fought. He has battled the who’s who of MMA for the last decade. He hasn’t ducked a soul and would willingly trade shots with anyone in the business. Why is this guy never brought up when we are talking about the top guys in the history of the sport?
Rampage doesn’t have the freakish record of an Anderson Silva or the loyal following of a Fedor; therefore he rarely gets mentioned as one of the best to ever lace up the gloves. At times, he has been an antagonist to the media, management, and his peers. At others, he has provided some of the high water marks of the sport. His highlight reel alone should be the textbook for fighters looking to better themselves at finishing fights. Don’t we revere guys that finish fights? Rampage may not be the most technical or the hardest worker, but damn, can that guy entertain the masses. Isn’t that what why we watch this sport? To be entertained by two guys locked in a cage trying to beat the living crap out of each other??? There is no one I would rather watch take on that task than Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.”
(If you want to hear Ben and Chad talk about my essay, head to the 20 minute mark here.)
It is an amazing piece of artistry, I know. I thought a mention on my favorite podcast would be reward enough, but then Ben and Chad declared that they would be sending random assortments of MMA related crap to all those that were mentioned on the show. I was elated. On Monday, I received my random assortment. I knew to expect a Josh Barnett T-shirt, but also included were a book by Matthew Polly and a program from the Strikeforce Heavyweight GP (autographed by Ben, Chad, and resident #CME theatricalist Sir Nigel Longstock). My favorite inclusion in the package though, was a touching note from Chad and Ben. Within the lovely ‘Thank You’ card was a message that only fans of the CME Podcast would take as a term of serious endearment. The guys clearly appreciated my work…
Pictures of my MMA swag assortment:
I implore any MMA fan out their to download the Co-Main Event Podcast, the hour that I listen to it while on the treadmill is (sadly…) one of my favorite times of the week. It was a blast to participate in the contest and a free prize pack? I’ll take that walking away…