As a 35-year-old man who no longer fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the biggest mixed martial arts organisation on the planet, Rampage Jackson may very well be past his prime.
But that does not mean that he is irrelevant as Matthew Ryder suggests. Although Rampage is no longer the bad ass, people slamming knock out artist he once was, the man is an entertaining fighter and will remain so for as long as he decides to fight.
The claim that Rampage Jackson is fixing to be a footnote in the pantheon of great mixed martial artists is not only offensive but also utterly wrong.
Let us not forget that Rampage unified both the UFC light heavyweight belt and the Pride middleweight championship when he defeated Dan Henderson at UFC 75 which served as a fitting climax to a six fight win streak. And yes, he may have lost his belt to heavy underdog Forrest Griffin, but the fight not only won the Fight of the Year award, but was also heavily disputed by fans and experts.
In addition, Rampage has some of the sports most famous highlight reel moments. Who could ever forget seeing his “Rampage Powerbomb” which knocked Ricardo Arona out cold? Add his devastating knockout of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92 and his fantastic finish of Chuck Liddell to win the light heavyweight belt, and you’d be hard pressed to find a fighter with more iconic moments in the sports than Rampage.
While often criticized for starring in Hollywood movies and apparently not taking the sport seriously due to his involvements in other areas, that is also untrue. You don’t have to look further than Ronda Rousey, the current women’s bantamweight champion, to see that fighters can do things other than fight and still take the sport seriously.
Ronda will appear in two films in 2014 and has done a number of other things, yet she recently showed with her victory of Sarah McMann that she is as motivated as ever. The simple difference between Ronda and Rampage is age and experience.
By the time Rampage appeared in “The Expendables” he was already into his thirties and had fought almost forty fights. Ronda on the other hand has only just completed her ninth fight and only this months turned 27. She is in her prime. Rampage was not. And so while it is easy to say the man lost his focus and no longer took the sport seriously, perhaps we should consider the stage in his career that he was at and not simply criticise him.
Rampage is definitely past his prime and no longer competes with the best in the sport, but he shouldn’t be and that still does not mean that he is not entertaining to watch. His short fight with Joey Beltran in his Bellator debut ended in an impressive knockout victory. No, Joey Beltran is not Jon Jones but as a man who is “over the hill” Rampage should not be fighting people like Jon Jones. At this point he would only be taking away a spot in the UFC from younger and hungrier opponents.
Jackson had his time in the spot-light and though it is now fading he is still capable of entertaining a crowd. Ultimately, no matter what the man does from this point out is for entertainment. But there is nothing wrong with that. Just like David Beckham leaving Real Madrid for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Rampage has accepted his stage in life and decided to make the best out of it. He can no longer compete at the top level so he competes against men against which he can fight a fair fight.
Regardless of if Rampage wins his Bellator fight tonight on Spike TV or loses it in spectacular fashion, the mark, which Jackson has left on the sport, is permanent. He may never enter the UFC Hall of Fame as his stint with the promotion was short lived, but it was a fantastic stint filled with many climaxes and fantastic moments. So when you watch Rampage Jackson compete tonight against Christian M’Pumbu, don’t criticise the fact that he is no longer the man he used to be, but instead admire the man he is.
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