Over a week ago, I heard some very sad news:  Quinton “Rampage” Jackson quit the UFC.

At first, I hoped it was just a spat that would be resolved which would help ensure that Rampage wouldn’t be missing any time in the octagon.  Contractual things happen from time to time in all sports, and typically they get resolved without too much impact.

Then I found out that things probably couldn’t be resolved.

Rampage Jackson wasn’t stepping away because of a contractual issue.  He isn’t stepping away from the sport which helped make him a world-wide superstar because he has “lost his smile” or lost interest from competing.  Watching him verbally spar with Rashad Evans as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter make it easy to see that he still wants to compete.

The reason Rampage is leaving this sport after 37 fights spanning a decade, The A-Team is the cause of Rampage’s retirement.  More specifically, Quinton was tapped to fill the shoes of Mr. T in the role of B.A. Baracus in Hollywood’s upcoming remake of The A-Team.

His retirement could’ve been avoided, though.  The UFC could still have one of its superstars.

“As soon as I found out I was close to getting it, I called Dana right away and asked to push the Memphis fight back just a month or so,” Jackson wrote. “I told him what this movie role meant to me. I told him that I used to bond with my father watching the TV show as a kid when my parents where still married, and it represents the memories I had with my father when we lived together. My dad became an alcoholic and addicted to drugs and we grew apart. But after my dad got his life back together, I was so proud of my dad and I told him I would always take care of him in the future and make him proud of me. My dad and I are still very big fans of the show, and I am basically doing this for the childhood memories I had spending time in front of the TV with my dad.”

I can understand that.  My dad doesn’t have any of the “demons” that Rampage’s dad had, but I know what it means to be able to connect with your father on something as trivial as a television show, as I’m sure a lot of people can understand.  How did Dana White respond to hearing what Rampage had to say?  If you guessed “eloquently”, you’re dead wrong.

“Get a [expletive] grip, dude,” White had stated about Rampage accepting the role. “You’re going to make a lot of money. You ain’t going to make a lot of money playing B.A. Baracus on ‘The A-Team’. Guess what Rashad Evans is thinking about right now? He’s thinking about beating your f**king ass. He’s not sitting around thinking about how him and his mom used to watch the f**king Love Boat together and he wants to get the role of Isaac the bartender.’”

As you might expect, that comment from UFC’s top brass didn’t sit well with the former UFC light heavyweight champion.  Dana White was obviously upset and didn’t want to lose one of his superstars (Rampage might not be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but he’s VERY charismatic, and he’s a high quality fighter with well-rounded skills who doesn’t lose very often).

Dana White and Rampage talked at least one more time about the situation, and at one point White event said that he and Rampage had “kind of made up”, but Dana kept taking small verbal shots about Jackson accepting the role to play a boy-hood idol on the big screen.  Included in Dana White’s humor-laced criticism of the situation involved a comment he made during the post-fight press conferences of UFC 103, stating

“they got [Rampage] thinking that they’re going to make this movie for nothing, and then the sequel he’ll make $20 million. I’ll pay [Rampage] nothing to fight Rashad, and then give him $20 million for the rematch.”

Speaking through his blog, Quinton made it known that not only was he unhappy with Dana White’s continued jabs at the situation, but he didn’t like the way that White was making certain details public, especially since some of them weren’t true:

“Dana and I finally talked and we made up, and then after that he went back on the internet and said some bullshit and he was talking bad about the movie when information is not even supposed to be released, and talking about payments which is not even true [that] could really hurt my future acting career, which could very well last longer than my fighting career. I’m not like Randy Couture.  My body has been getting so many different injuries that I won’t be able to fight until my forties, and neither do I want to fight that long. So I feel like my second career could be in jeopardy . . . so I’m done fighting.

That last comment made by Rampage was something that struck me as a very good way to approach things.  Quinton isn’t a guy who wants to fight until he’s brain-dead, he wants to find a second career from something that’s not going to wreck havoc on his mind and body.  I think it’s a great idea that Rampage wants to move into acting.  The season and a half I’ve seen him on The Ultimate Fighter shows me that he’s a highly charismatic, fun-loving guy.  If he had his own reality show where cameras followed him around all day, I’d watch it.

And I’d recommend that you do the same.

When The A-Team movie comes out, I’ll go watch it in theaters.  I wasn’t a die-hard fan of it as a kid, but I liked the concept and the characters.  It’ll be fun to see it on the big screen, and although it’ll be somewhat bittersweet when I see Rampage on screen and I take a moment to think about the fact that I MIGHT not get to see him ever fight again (because a comeback is certainly always an option), I will know that even if he doesn’t get back into the octagon, he will have made the right decision.

I still want to see him beat Rashad Evans, though.

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