'Rampage' Jackson is leaving the UFC. Does it matter?

Back at UFC on Fox 6 on Jan. 26 at the United Center in Chicago, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson answered a barrage of questions regarding his departure (or proposed departure) from the UFC. In all fairness to Jackson, we’ve come to love and expect his “keeping it real” answers when responding to the media, so it came as no surprise when questions regarding his future employment arose during that media call.

Jackson’s responses delivered as expected.

“They offered a renegotiation contract but I didn’t like (it). I don’t want it. I don’t want to renegotiate with them,” he said.

Rampage isn’t one to shy away from the tough questions. He’s always given heartfelt and honest answers that usually masquerade around by way of his colorful delivery. During the media call Jackson’s tone and message was clear: He’s done with the UFC and now has an additional reason — to pile onto an already growing list — for his immediate departure. Jackson clarified his new grip with the organization during the media call.

“I can say I have a new reason,” he said. “I’m sponsored by Reebok now and the UFC said I’m not allowed to wear Reebok in the cage. When other fighters are sponsored by Nike and stuff why can’t I have Reebok? It’s stupid stuff like that.”

It’s hard to argue with Jackson’s frustration if indeed what he says is true. However MMAJunkie’s Steven Marrocco — http://www.mmajunkie.com/news/2013/01/reebok-flap-latest-on-rampage-jacksons-list-of-gripes-with-ufc — reported that the UFC instituted a policy in 2009 that charges companies a fee to sponsor UFC fighters. A company is required to pay between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on its size, for the right to sponsor a fighter inside the Octagon. Unfortunately for Jackson, Reebok isn’t on the UFC’s approved list of sponsors.

It seems from the outside the UFC is creating another stream of income at the expense of their own employees. But Jackson is clear about one thing — it’s not just about the money.

“It’s not just about the money,” he said. “It’s about respect. I step in the Octagon (and) I put my life on the line, and I try to be an exciting fighter. I just don’t feel appreciated. I’d rather take a money cut and go to another show and feel appreciated.”

For now we’ll have to settle for awkward public encounters and tension-filled media sessions. It’s one reason why this sport is engaging and authentic. What makes this situation unique is in the end Jackson is perfectly content on taking his skills elsewhere. A dangerous situation if you’re the UFC.

A question still remains lingers: Does any of this matter if Rampage is no longer with the UFC?

Scott Levesque writes a weekly column for the Clarion on mixed martial arts. He will cover MMA at the local, state and national levels. His handle on Twitter is @scottlevesque.

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