I’ll be the first to admit that as a fight fan we tend to want to romanticize fighters. We like nothing more than to think that our favorite fighter is an emotionless gladiator hell-bent on the destruction of his opponent. Sure, we humanize this into a palatable level but we also like to believe that fighting is the ultimate joy in a fighter’s life. Well get this kiddos, it’s not.
Fighters are human and human beings typically loath undergoing weeks upon weeks of physically grueling workouts whit one eye always kept on your caloric intake. All this fun for the grand payoff of having the pleasure of being punched in the face repeatedly for over 15 minutes doesn’t really seem that inviting to the average person. Of course, fighters are a bit abnormal in this sense as they typically willfully enter into this greatest of competition for the fame, glory, and paychecks that most of us can only daydream about. But, let’s get one thing straight. If a fighter could make an equal or greater amount of pay without the hardships of, you know, actually fighting they would jump all over it.
This is why I find it so amusing to read and hear the venomous backlash aimed at former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson following a sting of comments and sound bites indicating that he would rather do movies than fight.
“I keep putting movies off because fighting is my primary career. Movies are something I want to get into after I’m done fighting. I want to keep acting as an exit plan from MMA. It’s a shame that I have to put off some roles because I’m fighting. It’s plenty of time between fights to do movies.”
Quotes like the one listed above don’t exactly paint a picture of a man itching to enter the cage and do another man harm. But, can you blame Jackson for wanting to do movies? If I offered you tens of thousands of dollars to do: A) sit in a trailer all day and remember some lines for a movie part, or B) ask you to diet for six weeks while engaging in the torture of daily training only to end up in a cage with another man gunning to separate your head from you neck; which would you choose? And therein lies the problem with fight fans, we hold our athletes up to ridiculous superhero standards. Jackson has been fighting for over a decade and that type of abuse begins to really accumulate on your body as well as your mind. Can you really blame him for making preparations for his inevitable retirement?
“That’s a big misconception. Some MMA fans they don’t understand and they want to jump all over it,” said Jackson. “I don’t get excited no more, I have almost 40 fights. You can’t fight until your 60. If anyone is smart, they want to have an extra plan in any sport. What happens after you get done fighting? It’s my life. I’m just here to entertain them, but do I care what they think when it comes to my family? Hell, no. “
Again, can you blame the man for wanting to make good money with the least amount of physical toil on his body as possible? Granted, you could say that given his appearance in the A-Team that “Rampage” should probably stick to fighting, but can you blame the man for trying to cash in while his name still resonates with an audience?
Of course, this doesn’t mask the fact that Jackson has a difficult task ahead of him on Saturday night when he takes on Matt Hamill. Hamill is supremely motivated to make a name for himself with a win over Jackson which makes the main event at UFC 130 all the more interesting.
Look, in the end you can chastise a fighter’s performance in the cage or their actions out of it, but you can’t begrudge a man who is simply looking toward the future. The fight game is an unforgiving business and no one is going to look after him and his family once he hangs up the gloves. I can’t hate on a man trying to ensure that he is able to maintain the bringing home of the bacon in retirement.