'A-Team' heats up Jackson-White problems
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's decision to retire from mixed martial arts took everybody by storm.
Jackson and UFC president Dana White had been at odds for months over Jackson's long-time desire to play the role of the legendary B.A. Baracus in the film remake of the popular A-Team television series, but White indicated last weekend that he and Jackson had mended fences and were moving forward.
Jackson's retirement seemingly came from nowhere. In truth, it was a direct result of months upon months of insults, biting comments, broken promises and bad decisions.
Before Jackson's last bout with Keith Jardine at UFC 96 in March, he was offered the chance to face Rashad Evans, then the UFC light heavyweight champion. All Jackson had to do was defeat the very game Jardine.
Jackson jumped at the chance. Not only would he get another shot for the belt he believed he never truly lost, but he'd be stepping in the cage with a man who he'd developed a strong personal distaste for. Jackson felt Evans became too cocky after wins over an aging Chuck Liddell and the overhyped Forrest Griffin, and looked forward to taking him down a notch or two.
As expected, Jackson defeated Jardine. After the bout (and much to the surprise of Jackson), Evans was brought into the cage to interrupt Jackson's postfight interview. In a scene straight out of pro wrestling, Evans and Jackson went nose to nose in a trash-talking session that sent fans into a tizzy. It's not often that the UFC allows situations like this to unfold; it's even more rare when the hatred on display is obviously real.
Jackson was injured in the fight, and he planned to take a few months off before starting preparation for the UFC 100 bout with Evans in July.
Only the fight wasn't happening in July. It was happening in May.
An injury to Frank Mir had pushed the planned heavyweight title bout between Mir and Brock Lesnar to July, and the Jackson-Evans fight would replace it on the UFC 98 card in May.
That wasn't acceptable to Jackson. He needed rest, and he was going to take it, title shot or not.
Lyoto Machida replaced Jackson in the Evans bout, and Jackson was asked if he wanted to coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Jackson, who had coached previously and knew how a turn on the show could turn him into a bigger star, accepted. He rooted heavily for Evans to beat Machida, but it was not to be.
After the Machida win, Jackson was given a choice: he could face Machida in September for the belt, or he could coach The Ultimate Fighter and fight Evans at the conclusion of the season.