Rampage Jackson's relationship with the UFC was marked by constant tension.
The former light heavyweight champion and PRIDE star frequently clashed with the UFC and its president, Dana White, on various issues such as fighter pay, sponsor taxes, and facing opponents with wrestling-oriented styles. Their tumultuous connection culminated in their parting of ways in 2013 following Jackson's loss to Glover Teixeira.
At times, Jackson appeared disinterested in being a fighter altogether, as he candidly admitted in a 2010 interview with Fighters Only. He explained, "I don't know how much I ever loved the fight game, to be honest. Most fighters these days join fighting because they became a fan of it. When I started, I wasn't a fan of it; I've been a fighter my whole life. I just thought it was a blessing that God could give me something I could make money doing. When I was a kid, I got tired of fighting. I didn't want to be a fighter anymore. But I was just good at it. It was just something that was in my blood. Some people are fighters."
In a recent episode of his JAXXON podcast, Jackson discussed the moment when he felt that Dana White had crossed the line. It revolved around how Jackson was treated after fighting with a pre-existing injury.
Jackson recalled, "I think I fell out with Dana when I lost to Ryan Bader in Japan. I got injured before that fight and I called Dana right away. And I said, 'Man, I got a posterior tear in my meniscus.' He said, 'What are you gonna do?' I said, 'S***, man, it's Japan. I still want to fight. I said, 'F***, man, I'm still going to fight. I want to fight, man.' It's Japan, we were fighting in Japan. I love fighting in Japan."
Rampage Jackson and Tyron Woodley reminisce on when they told Dana White about their injuries going into their separate fights, and then White would bash them at the post-fight press conference— MMA Mania (@mmamania) September 21, 2023
Ex: Jackson vs. Bader in Japan
& Woodley vs. Maia at UFC 214 pic.twitter.com/UCDrTO2pEj
"So when I went there and I fought, and I lost by decision, the first thing Dana did in the press conference was like, 'I don't know what's going on with Rampage. I don't think he has it. I don't think he wants it anymore.' After all the s*** [Dana White] did to me, when he did that s***, that's when I kinda got p***** at him. I lost my love for fighting right there. Because I have never pulled out of a fight. I don't pull out, man. I got 4, 5, 6 kids. I don't pull out. I ain't never pulled out of a fight. I never pulled out. After that? When I got injured I started pulling out of fights. I said, 'F*** this s***.' Because you don't get no respect. You're fighting injured. And I let Dana know right away that I was injured. For him to say that? That kinda made me look at him sideways."
Tyron Woodley, another former UFC champion, shared a similar story about Dana White's treatment when he fought with an injury. Woodley emphasized that he had informed White about his torn labrum before the fight against Demian Maia. Despite winning the fight, White publicly criticized him for a less than thrilling performance.
Jackson's friction with Dana White and the UFC became so pronounced that he initially declined the idea of being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. He later mentioned that he might consider it if the Hall of Fame induction came with a pension plan, highlighting his primary focus on financial security rather than fame.
Despite his complicated history with the UFC, Jackson is set to make a surprising return to MMA in 2023, with potential future boxing bouts on the horizon. He will face Darrill Schoonover at a UFL event in mid-December, and if that goes well, he may make his debut in the boxing ring in 2024.