Quinton Jackson’s reaction to originally being left off the lineup for UFC 144 was one of anger and disappointment. However, his behavior was not based on an overwhelming desire to earn a paycheck or to numb the sting of having been beaten in his last bout. Rather, Jackson’s passion was based on his hunger to entertain an audience he has an immense amount of respect for due to the time he spent in PRIDE.
After taking his cause public and continuing to push things behind the scenes the UFC finally relented on their stance and booked him to face Ryan Bader on February 26 at the company’s upcoming return to the Land of the Rising Sun.
The news came as a great relief to Jackson who spoke some about the differences between fighting in Japan when compared to the United States at a recent press conference promoting the event.
“Back when I was fighting here, I had so much energy. I just wanted to put on a good show for the fans because all the energy they give,” Jackson explained. “In America, you’re under so much pressure to win at all costs because the fans talk sh*t to you if you lose even if it’s a good, exciting fight. In Japan, it’s just a different energy. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take more chances and not care because it’s all about the crowd. I react to the crowd. I don’t care about the people watching on TV.”
Jackson continued on to say the change in environment actually had a negative effect on his in-ring style, stating, “Actually my standup has evolved a lot since I last fought here, but at the same time that’s what’s gotten me in trouble a lot lately. Everyone sees me boxing a lot more, so they’re creating great game plans to counter my boxing. In Japan, I used to slam a lot and put on more of a show because the energy from the fans gave me power and I don’t feel the same energy in the US. So, I can’t honestly say I improved or evolved in a good way since leaving Japan.”
Though the actual impact the surroundings will have on the former UFC light heavyweight champ remains to be seen, Jackson made it clear he hopes Bader shares his enthusiasm for attempting to wow those in attendance.
“The only thing that matters when he steps in the cage in Japan is that he comes in to put on an exciting show. I’m all about putting on an exciting fight in Japan. One thing I love about Japanese fans and why I love them the most is that they don’t care if you win or lose. All they care is if you have samurai spirit, that you put on a good fight. That’s why Japanese fans are my favorite. And American fans are jealous that I say that all the time.”
UFC 144 will mark the first fight in Japan for “Rampage” in six years after making a name for himself in PRIDE from 2001-2006. His many memorable performances in Japan include those coming in match-ups with Chuck Liddell, Kevin Randleman, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, and Ricardo Arona.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/FEG