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Quinton's Quotables

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - Cover this game long enough and you’ll get a few perks, one of which is interviewing some of the most interesting athletes in the world, guys with great stories and the willingness to tell them. No one’s quite like Quinton Jackson though, and in my years of covering mixed martial arts, rarely has someone been as quotable as the former light heavyweight champion who takes on his nemesis Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 114 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 29th.

By Thomas Gerbasi

Rampage JacksonCover this game long enough and you’ll get a few perks, one of which is interviewing some of the most interesting athletes in the world, guys with great stories and the willingness to tell them. No one’s quite like Quinton Jackson though, and in my years of covering mixed martial arts, rarely has someone been as quotable as the former light heavyweight champion who takes on his nemesis Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 114 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 29th.

Of course, back in his wilder days, half of the stuff he would blurt out wouldn’t be suitable for print, but even then, Jackson would always give a reporter what he was looking for and always much more. So here are some gems from my chats with the man nicknamed “Rampage”.

On his less than ideal formative years, growing up in Memphis (2003)

“It’s not an excuse. My family is from the country and they grew up poor on a farm, but a lot of my uncles have their own businesses, are airplane pilots, and they did something with their lives. My mom was poor and I didn’t have everything I wanted. And I want to have things. I want to do things. So if I had the chance to make money fighting I’m going to do it and be the best so I can make some money and take care of my family. I’m going to give back to my mom and help them out so my little brother and sister can have things that I had to do without. One of the problems with me why I didn’t do so good in school is that I was surrounded by the wrong people and I was kinda poor, so the kids would make fun of me because I didn’t have the clothes that they had. So I really couldn’t concentrate on getting my lessons. I always had to fight and talk s**t to my classmates so they would leave me alone. I don’t want my little sister and brother to have to go through that. I fight now, save some money and send it back home so they can just worry about getting their education. They can wear nice clothes and do nice things. My mom don’t have to worry about how she’s going to feed them and pay her bills and everything.”

On his introduction to wrestling (2003)

“One of my uncles once sat me down and told me that if I didn’t change the way I was living and the way Rampage vs LiddellI was acting, I wasn’t going to live long. I saw a lot of my friends disappearing, either going to prison or getting killed, and I didn’t want that type of life. Strangely, something changed when we moved out of the neighborhood and we moved to a place where they had better things. They had wrestling in school and a lot of other things. Normally I was going to an all-black school, but there I went to a mixed school and got surrounded by a mixture of people. It was more positive for me and I felt how good I could be. My grades got better and I stopped doing the hustling I was doing. I got a job and I changed. And I kinda liked it. It was cool to try and do something positive. Sometimes it was hard for me to be totally good. I still went back to my roots when I had to, but I liked the change. I was wrestling and I wasn’t fighting as much on the streets.

On his first exposure to mixed martial arts (2003)

I went off to college to wrestle and when I got back he (friend and former wrestling rival Dave Roberts) took me to one of these fights. “These wrestlers were fighting and kicking everybody’s ass. I was like, ‘damn.’ I grew up fighting all the time, but I always got in trouble for it. I was thinking, ‘damn, I can fight without getting in trouble.’ That’s all I was thinking about. I started doing it, and I got pretty good at it, I guess.”

On getting acclimated to mixed martial arts, conducted before his fight with Kevin Randleman (2003)

“Nothing’s ever been given to me, so I’m used to it. Most fighters have a real strong background. Take Kevin Randleman for instance. He’s got a real strong wrestling background. You take other fighters; one may have a strong kickboxing background while another has a strong jiu-jitsu background. I didn’t have that in anything. I just grew up fighting on the street all my life. I just knew how to fight.”

UFC 92 Rampage JacksonOn his early days as a pro fighter (2005)

“I was living in an RV when I first started fighting in Pride. I was kinda homeless. I moved from my family in Memphis to California and started training. And some things didn’t work out. But I didn’t want to give up, so I had to live where I had to live. I lived in worse places before, so I did that and God pulled me through. He got me where I am right now.”

On fighting in Japan (2008)

“My family wasn’t surprised that I was gonna be a fighter because growing up, I was just natural at fighting. I just told them I was fighting over in Japan and they couldn’t understand why I chose Japan. I told them I didn’t choose Japan; Japan chose me. But they knew I was happy and I was loving it, and I was doing pretty well – I was making a living.”

Before his first fight with Chuck Liddell (2003)

“Any fighter can beat any other fighter on any given day. Randy Couture beat Chuck (Liddell) that one day; maybe if they fought the next day Chuck could have beaten him. You never know. I try to keep a positive mentality at all times but I don’t want to be a cocky fighter. It’s not my style. I talk s**t, but that’s just me. If you pay attention, I really don’t talk s**t about my opponents unless they did something wrong to me. And when I talk about people’s mamas, even they laugh about it.”

On Liddell before their first fight (2003)

“I don’t like to watch a lot of tape on my opponents. I watch to see what I need to know and that’s it. I don’t want to watch too much tape and then you go out there worried about what they’re gonna do. Liddell’s a tough fighter but he makes some mistakes in there. Everybody makes mistakes; I’m just gonna try and capitalize on the ones he makes.”

On competing in the Pride Grand Prix tournament, where he would eventually face Chuck UFC 71 Chuck Liddell vs Rampage JacksonLiddell and Wanderlei Silva in the same night (2003)

“I’ve got the least experience of everybody in this tournament. I’ve just been fighting on the street all my life. That’s what I bring to the table. Even though these guys may have more professional fights than I have, I’ve got more fights. And when I fight, I’m fighting for my life. Maybe that will help me out a little bit.”

On dealing with the fans during his stint in Pride (2003)

“It’s cool but I don’t fight to be a famous guy or anything. I started fighting to pay the bills. I like the fans and everything, and they’re cool, but what heterosexual guy wants to get their rocks off by a bunch of guys knowing them? If I was a movie star or something, it would be different, because girls would know who I was too. But in America, only guys know who I am, so it’s not a big deal to me. In Japan, girls come up to me too and ask for autographs and stuff like that too. But in America, girls rarely know who I am. This is not a sport that girls watch. If I was acting in a soap opera, it would be different. Girls would come up to me and then it would be worth it. Girls going crazy over you, yeah, but a bunch of guys, come on. It’s nice and cool and everything, but it’s not something that floats my boat.”

On dealing with superstardom in Japan (2005)

“I don’t wear my chain around and I don’t walk around like I’m a big fighter all the time with my fighter shirt on. I try to blend in because everybody and their mama has cameras out there. If one person starts taking pictures then the whole street starts taking pictures. I’ll be there for hours signing autographs and taking pictures. My friends will leave me – they always do – and I’ll be there by myself.”

UFC 96 Rampage Jackson vs Keith JardineOn getting some ‘get back’ (2005)

“I want to beat everybody who beat me. (Wanderlei) Silva beat me twice, and he’s the only person who did that, so I guess I want to beat him twice as bad as I want to beat everybody else who beat me. Even though I fight for money, I don’t want to lose, and I do want to be the best.”

On winning the UFC light heavyweight title (2007)

“The best thing that’s come out of me being champ is I got a chance to meet Beyonce, so I’m happy about that. That was my lucky day, 7/7/07.”

On his fighting philosophy (2007)

“I’m the type of fighter that wants to please the crowd. Win, lose, or draw, I want to put on a good show. That’s what I do. I want everybody to be amused from the moment I walk out to the moment I leave. That’s me in a nutshell and that’s what I get paid for. I’m an entertainer and I’m gonna entertain everyone.”

On life in the UFC (2008)

“This is the thing about the UFC that a lot of people don’t know – it’s not only made me more successful, but it’s also bringing my family together. My Mom is more active in what’s going on with me, my Dad has been to every one of my UFC fights, even in London. He never came to my PRIDE fights. My cousins, aunts, and uncles saw me on The Ultimate Fighter show, people I don’t even get to talk to that often, they all want to come to my fights. The UFC is not only doing great things for me financially, but for my family as well, and I can never repay those guys. They treat me so good. I fought for PRIDE for years and I still felt like the red-headed stepchild there. But the UFC, I beat their posterboy, Chuck, and I’m sure they didn’t like that but they still accepted me and treated me better than PRIDE ever did.”

On his fighting style (2008)

“I always try to learn new stuff. I’m really a brawler, and a lot of times brawlers don’t know much – they UFC 67 All Or Nothing Quintonjust brawl – but I want to transform into a technical brawler. I want to get better on the ground and get my wrestling better. But things have suffered – I don’t slam people as much because I’m concentrating on other stuff. So it’s good and bad, because I like slamming people.”

On the interviewing process (2008)

“It is hard, because a lot of fighting is mental, and those are the questions that I really don’t like to hear. So if I don’t want to talk about something, I just won’t talk about it. I’m a mentally strong person, and I have to be, especially with all this stuff going on in my life. But I’ve always been known to put stuff to rest when it’s time for me to fight – I get tunnel vision.”

On training in England (2008)

“I need trainers around me that aren’t just there for themselves and saying ‘look at me, look at me.’ I need trainers who want to put the hard work into me and who aren’t out for themselves. Plus, I always had a problem having sparring partners and stuff like that. The Wolfslair allows me to have good sparring partners and trainers, and it makes you hungry training in another country where it’s cold and where the people are just hard workers. That’s what I need right now.”

Before his third fight with Wanderlei Silva (2008)

“I don’t pick and choose my opponents like some fighters. I don’t think Silva has my number; I changed my number a long time ago. I got a new phone, homey. (Laughs) He beat me when I was young. I think Silva used to be one of the luckiest fighters on the planet, and his luck ran out. I think I did make a lot of excuses for those losses that I had with him, but I know why I lost, and I know why I’m gonna win this UFC 67 All Or Nothing Quintontime.”

On beating Silva (2009)

“It felt really good taking down Wanderlei. He’s a guy I’ve been wanting to beat for years because he’s just one of those guys you know you can beat. He’s tough, but I just knew I could beat him. It would have been nice to beat him when he was champion and on top of his game, but a win is a win.”

On Rampage (2005)

“I’ve been fighting all my life. It (success) surprises me sometimes. But I try not to let stuff go to my head and I try to be the same person I was before I even started fighting and just live my life.