And so it has come to pass: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has done his time in the UFC.
He has finished his contract and is now a man of leisure—until he signs a new contract with Bellator or some other organization, or perhaps steps into the boxing ring to try out professional pugilism. He no longer has to deal with the constraints of UFC policy in regard to fighter sponsorships and the like, and he holds his future in his own hands, as he ever has.
As a “free agent” with a big name, one of the perks of that status is coauthoring the terms of your next contract to a degree. Granted, any prospective employer is going to have their own terms and some of them will be set in stone.
But if the name is big enough, suddenly contract negotiations can become more fluid than normal, and in the case of Rampage Jackson, fluidity could be just what is needed for both sides.
As we have seen many times in the past, fighters leave the UFC only to quickly learn that they want to go back home—and sometimes that is the hard part. In the case of Jackson, it was shocking how kind Dana White was when speaking of Jackson; most people who have attacked White and the UFC like Jackson has would be persona non grata and treated as such.
After some distance has been acquired and some time has passed, men like Jackson and White could find themselves talking again, as so often happens in the world of MMA.
While I am not saying such a thing is probable, it is possible.
The UFC is the biggest show on Earth for the sport, and if Jackson keeps on fighting in MMA, odds are he is going to end up crossing paths with White or his people now and again.
If that were to happen, one begins to wonder if Rampage Jackson and Dana White could handle working with each other in small doses, at least at first.
Of course, the obvious question is: “To what end?” Why would either the UFC or Rampage consider working with each other for a one-fight deal, or even many one-fight deals?
The answer of course depends on the opponent and the results; oftentimes a single fight can change many things for a fighter, and by proxy, the company he fights for.
Should Jackson improve his game and begin to rack up some impressive wins, his confidence could grow and as could his desire. A one-fight deal with the UFC—an exploratory effort, so to speak—could serve to reacquaint the UFC and Jackson to the better angles of their working relationship.
It could also whet their mutual appetites while helping them work out any contractual differences they had in the past: specifically Jackson’s sponsorship with Reebok.
But all of this is just pie in the sky, to be honest. No one has ever worked so hard at burning a bridge as Rampage Jackson and now he’s on the outside of the biggest promotion in the sport, by choice.
But the UFC has never really turned loose of a name as big as Rampage, especially when they see it as feeding their enemies (which would be any rival promotion), so it really depends if they dislike Rampage enough to allow him to draw for the competition.
Odds are that we will find out soon.