Jackson had a brief workout on Wednesday afternoon, basically, to stay loose with his title defense against Forrest Griffin coming up at UFC 86 on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mandalay Bay Events Center on pay-per-view.
Jackson took some time out to field questions from the media. This wasn’t the usual Q&A session where fighters answer the same questions over and over.
A Jackson Q&A session begins with him cracking jokes on nearly every reporter before he begins to answer questions.
“You look just like Bam Bam Bigalow,” Jackson started in on one rather large reporter.
“You need to take those little bitty glasses off,” he continued on to another reporter. “You got your little sister’s glasses on? I knew it. She got the same prescription as you.
Then back to the first reporter.
“You could be Bam Bam Bigalow, homie,” Jackson cracked.
Bam Bam the reporter shot back with, “I’ll play you in a game of horse.” He was referring to Jackson’s poor basketball performance against Griffin during one of the episode’s of “The Ultimate Fighter 7.
“(Laughs) I don’t play basketball,” Jackson admitted.
“Can’t you tell?
“Look, everybody know that Rampage can’t play basketball and Forrest played basketball in high school. In high school, I fought. I didn’t play basketball. You all come to the press conference and ask me questions about that damn horse game then.
Jackson is quick to throw out playful jabs at anyone from us lowly writers to UFC president Dana White. But he also is self deprecating and can take a joke as well. That’s what makes his personality so infectious.
But that fun-loving nature goes out the window the second Rampage steps foot in the octagon.
Here’s what Rampage had to say during his Q&A, which was equal parts comedy routine and serious discussion:
On the long layoff since his last fight against Dan Henderson on Sept 8 at UFC 75:
“It’s been good. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to my body. I needed a layoff. I wish y’all laid the hell of me with this damn horse, too. Why don’t all y’all line up in a circle, so I could smack all y’all. I already smacked you. I should smack the big guy. He’s the one that started this damn horse talk. The first thing I’m going to do when I make some money is buy you some bigger glasses. You need to get some because those glasses got stretch marks. What the hell wrong with you. Big-ass guy with little itty bitty glasses.
On becoming a comedian if this MMA thing doesn’t work out:
“Well, I get nervous when I get up in front of a bunch of people. If they boo me, I might jump off the stage and start kicking ass. It would probably be a bad job for me.
On Griffin’s funniest line on “The Ultimate Fighter 7″:
“I don’t think nothing Forrest says is funny. He looks funny.
On admitting to having jitters for his UFC debut against Marvin Eastman:
“Yeah, I’m nervous at all my fights except for two (against) Wanderlei Silva. The first fight I had fought Chuck 45 minutes before. The second fight I had received the Holy Ghost Spirit.
On how his life has changed since he became a born-again Christian:
“Look at me. I’m champion. I’m undisputed. I’m making history, setting records and whupping ass. It’s been working out for me pretty good.
On if God cares who wins a fight:
“How do you know? Do you talk to God? How do you know? A priest is not always right. I don’t know how God feel about it. I don’t know how he feel about it, but I been doing OK.
On how coming to know God changed him:
“I don’t know. I just think I read the bible and stuff and God said whatever job you got, do it as though you were doing it for him. So, this is my job. So, I want to make him proud. He gave me these skills. He made me what I am.
On what he expects from Griffin:
“I’m expecting to whup his ass.
On if Griffin is at the same level as Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell:
“Nah, I don’t put him at the same level as Dan Henderson or Chuck. Dan Henderson and Chuck (have) been fighting for a long time. They’ve fought soome really good guys. The toughest guys Forrest fought, he lost to those toughest guys when he fought with them.
On if Griffin deserves a shot at the title:
“Well, who should fight for the title that I got? That’s not my concern. It’s my job to fight. I’m happy whoever come in there and fight whether I think he is tougher than me or not.
On if the fans have caught on to this fight:
“From my MySpace page I think a lot of people want to see this fight. But I don’t know.
On a possible third fight against Wanderlei Silva:
“I want to see that fight, too. I think anywhere outside of PRIDE Wanderlei would get his ass whupped as has been proven. he has no one to cheat for him, referees to stand him up when he’s getting his butt kicked on the ground. No one to stop the fight and keep the time going when he’s losing.
“You guys go back and watch the tape yourself. You’ll see it. The UFC is very, very fair. They won’t do nothing like that for nobody, so as long as it’s a fair fight … whether I win or lose, as long as it’s a fair fight, then I will be happy. I won’t say nothing else about it. If I lose a fair fight, you’ll never hear me say nothing else about it.
On the Mauricio “Shogun” Rua that Griffin fought compared to the Rua he fought in PRIDE:
“We all know, people who know fighters seen and have seen Shogun fight and everything, we can all tell that wasn’t the same Shogun. So, I’m not impressed at all. When I fought Shogun, I shouldn’t have fought him. I needed the money. You know, I was injured when I fought Shogun. Sometimes I take fights. When I fought Chuck, I was injured. But it was a different type of injury. It wouldn’t stop me from getting my cardio. I just had a fractured wrist. Still, it would have hurt me if I would have hit him with it real hard. But we take that risk. I won fights when I was injured before when I shouldn’t have been fighting and I’ve lost fights when I shouldn’t have been fighting.
“I was messed up the first time I fought Chuck. When I fought in the tournament, I had some problems because of the fires down in San Bernardino messed up my respiratory system, I guess. I still fought. I had to. Back in those days, I was young, making a lot of cash money and I was spending it as fast as I could get it. So every fight I had to fight.
On what has changed since those days:
“I’m more mature. I found God. I got God on my side. I give 10 percent to the church and I prosper, you know. I give 10 percent to the church and I’ve got a good team of financial advisors and stuff. I’m more mature. I’m 30 years old now. Back in those days I was 23-24 making cash money. Now, I don’t get cash. I don’t see it. Now, I make more money as well. It’s all good.
On his acting career and possible role in the “A-Team”:
“Well, I don’t … Uh, I can’t … to be honest I wish I could say. I don’t know. After this fight, I’ll find out. I guess (it’s top secret) because I don’t know either. It’s so top secret even the guy trying to get into the movie don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know.
On how life has changed since coming to the UFC:
“I can’t complain about it, but everybody know who I am. Sometimes I just want to go to the grocery store and get me something to eat, you know what I’m saying and, damn, you can’t even. To be honest, I’m an outgoing person but sometimes in my environment, I live in Orange County, I hate to say it, but there aren’t too many black people around, so I’m out of my element. I feel kind of shy and timid. I go around, I don’t look at people and I do my thing. Now, I can’t be invisible. In that part of America, people don’t even look at you. Now, people are like ‘Aah, hey’ and they know everything about you. They know the license plate on my car and tell me my address. They know everything. Sometimes you want to be like a regular guy, but I guess it’s part of my job.
On the time when MMA was known for having predominantly white fighters:
“Yeah, what’s up with that? Well, you know, let’s be honest, white folks need a sport like MMA because blacks and Mexicans took over boxing. Football and basketball you got black folks and baseball and stuff like that. I’m happy for white folks. I ain’t gonna lie to you. I ain’t a hater. I’m happy for white folks that they got MMA. It just so happens that I was pretty good at MMA. As you all can see I can’t play basketball. Football is too dangerous. I don’t like baseball. It’s too boring, boring as hell. I can fight a little bit, so I decided to see what was up with MMA and it worked out for me.
On if he has changed that perception in MMA:
“Well, there are a lot of people like Japanese guys, the smaller guys, the big Japanese guys suck. The small Japanese guys are really good. You got the Korean guys. (Somebody asks about African-American fighters) Who is African-American? The Africans? You mean black Americans. I just never liked that term because I met a white guy that said he was African-American. He was from Africa and moved to America and now he’s African-American. How can you be African-American and I’m African-American and I ain’t never been to Africa? How can I be African-American? (Somebody says he would be an African-African-American) No, he would be a white African-American.
On if more young black kids will get involved in MMA:
“I’m pretty sure, maybe, hopefully. If that’s what they want to do. I’m not fighting, so more black people can get into fighting. Black people can do whatever they want to do. White people can do whatever they want to do. I’m not a racial person, so I don’t care what race and people do what. I’m just making money the best way I know how. I ain’t thinking about whether black people be good. I’m happy that white people do have a fighting sport.
On how he got involved in MMA:
“Because I could beat up white people and not get arrested (laughs). I’m joking. I just had to put that in there, y’all excuse me. I just wanted to get back into wrestling, so I could use my wrestling because I wasn’t going to go to the Olympics. So I could use it in fighting. I grew up fighting. I was a pretty good fighter, so it was a no-brainer.
On where he grew up in Memphis:
“In South Memphis, the ‘Dirty Dirty.
On UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva moving up to his weight class:
“I don’t care about anybody coming to my weight class. It’s not my weight class. It was here before I got here. I’m the champ, but I don’t own this weight class. So anybody can come, and if he likes the weight class, and I think he will do pretty good. But anybody who try to go against me I’m gonna do my best to whup that ass, that’s what I do, that’s what I get paid for.
“Well, it don’t matter to me, as long as I’m getting paid when I fight. He (Silva) could be the (pound-for-pound) king, then if we fight and I win, then I get to be the king. It’s OK. I like being the champion. I like people knowing I’m one of the best in the world. We fought the same guy (Dan Henderson). He finished the guy. I went to a decision. We got two different fighting styles. People don’t understand that. They talk about how because Forrest beat Shogun and I lost to Shogun, and I beat Chuck twice, but Wanderlei beat me twice, and Chuck whupped Wanderlei’s ass. You know what I’m saying? A fight is a fight. It don’t work.
On the possibility of his fight against Griffin going the distance:
“I’m not psychic, but if I have anything to do with it, it won’t go the distance. Judges are judges. I’m not hating on judges, but sometimes I don’t agree with their decisions. When I really think about it, why do I want to put my fight in the fate of three other people. Sometimes, you see the scorecards and you say, ‘What fight was that one judge watching?’ Sometimes, you get two judges like that. Sometimes, judges be talking to each other, giving hand signals and stuff like that. I don’t know? I want to fulfill my own destiny. That’s what I like. I like to fulfill my own destiny. I’m going to try my damndest to end this fight any way I can within the rules, because I’m not a dirty fighter.
On wanting to show the fighters on TUF 7 how to do it when he fights Griffin:
“I want to show my teammates how to do it. My motivation is him getting in the cage with me and trying to beat me up. That’s my motivation, but I want to show my teammates how it’s done.
On cutting off the ring an neutralizing Griffin’s movement:
“It’s probably really important, because that’s probably what he is going to try and do. He thinks he has really good footwork. Maybe, he does. I saw him moving around, but it didn’t look like really good footwork to me. He just know how to get out of the way in one area, then he come back. Sometimes he try to switch it. That doesn’t strike me as good footwork. But let’s see if I can deal with it. Maybe, I might have a problem dealing with it. Maybe, I might have to take him down and whup his ass on the ground if he gets too frustrating up top. Who knows? I’ll tell you after the fight because I don’t know.
On Griffin’s wrestling ability:
“He might be past my level, but it don’t matter. You know, Kevin Randleman was a lot better wrestler than me and Chuck Liddell is a better wrestler than me. So I don’t care how much his wrestling has improved.
On if being opposing coaches on TUF 7 added anything to this fight:
“It would have been the same fight if I had never done the show. I got no problem with him. I got pissed off with him one time. That’s the way I am. Then I let it go. I don’t hold grudges or nothing. I don’t know what he said in the interviews, but that don’t matter. He can say whatever he wants about me. It don’t matter. I fight. My main goal is to win and at the same time excite the fans. That’s my main goal.
On what he wants his legacy to be:
“I want my legacy to be that Rampage was one of the most entertaining fighters there ever was in this sport.
On being in a video game:
“It’s not my first time being in a video game. Hopefully, it’s better than the other video game I was in becausue that one sucked. I didn’t really play that one. This one is good. I played with myself (laughs). I don’t know what you was thinking about.
On how long he has been wearing the junkyard chain:
“Ever since I was 17 when I was in high school wrestling. I brought the chain and I brought the pain. I don’t what they think. I didn’ ask them. I know, not many people did that.
On Griffin saying Rampage has a very scary scowl:
“What’s that? Don’t use big words with me. It’s just the way I look. I don’t mean to intimidate. That’s just the way I look and it’s for the fans. Fans like that type of stuff. I’m a fighter. I’m not an ice skater, you know. Fans get mad when I look mean in the pictures with them. I fight for a living. I’m not a barbarian, but I’m still a fighter. I’m not a basketball player. They can smile, pretty boys. Football players, they kind of mean a little bit, but they still can smile. This is like the most full contact sport here. I’m not only a fighter, I’m a UFC fighter. I’m one of the best athletes on the planet. It’s just … you gotta look mean. That’s the way I feel. I’m already ugly.
Why try to look better? Look mean … yeah!”
On watching tapes to prepare for his opponents:
“Juanito and my other trainers do that. They tell me what to watch out for. I don’t do that. Sometimes I fall asleep when I watch my opponents. I try not to … that stuff, it don’t excite me. I try not to do it. I’ll watch them like once to see what they do just so I know. I got a theory if I watch their tapes I’ll be worried about what they are gonna do, and I don’t like to worry.
On being closer with his family since he came baack from Japan and started fighting in the U.S.
“I been closer with my family since I started fighting for the UFC. I don’t know what it is about the UFC, but my family … hell, I had to spend like$8,000 in extra tickets because everybody watched me on ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ I got uncles and aunts like 80 years old like, ‘I’m coming. I ain’t never been on no plane before in my life, but I’m coming to Vegas to watch you. You better get me some tickets. I want front row.’ What your old ass need with the front row. ‘I can’t see nowhere else.’ So they are going to be in the front row with they binoculars, 80 years old.
“They didn’t even know I was in Japan. They don’t know none of that stuff. They didn’t even give a damn until I started fighting in (the UFC). It brought my family closer. My dad has been to every last one of my UFC fights even the one in London. He never been to Japan. The UFC just brough my family closer. I go back home and my family real nice to me and stuff.
On MMA recently being sanctioned in Tennessee:
“It would be very important for me to fight in Memphis as long as they pay me. I’ll fight at your house as long as I get paid. That’s one thing you don’t understand about me, I got four kids that I got to put through college, so I got to save a little for tuition, and possibly bail money. They bad as hell as well.
On his kids:
“My oldest is D’Angelo Rampage Jackson. Then I got Roger Raekwon Alexander Jackson. Then there is Elijah Rampage Jackson. And then there is Nanami Rampage Jackson. They are 8, 8, 2 and 1 (years old).
“They live with me and stuff, so I get to see them, but not as much as I would like to. They come up to Big Bear on the weekends and terrorize the house, make a big mess and piss all over the place, then leave. What? You don’t want me to be honest? You want somebody that’s gonna lie to you. I’m sorry. I got some pissy boys. I wish they wasn’t. They just don’t care, I guess. What I supposed to do. I try things like counseling. You can’t whup your kids no more in California. You can whup ‘em, you just can’t leave no bruises. Punishment don’t work. You take video games away from ‘em and they act like they don’t care.
“I’m thinking about military school, but they might blow up the whole school and I’d have to pay for it. Time out? They’d shoot me. Those 8 year olds bad as hell.
“They try to act like angels when I come around, but they know they can get me upset. But my little girl, she’s the worst one. She don’t care. She runs the house. She’s 1 (year old) and she don’t care. She beats up everybody. She terrorizes the dog. I give her a mean look and she smacks me real hard in the face. She terrorizes the dog. The dog run from her. She pulls the dog lips, tugs the ears. She smacks him on the head. She terrorize the dog. She kick him in the balls. She don’t care. She’s mean. He be on the ground and she dropping elbows. I’m like who taught her elbows. I know I didn’t teach her elbows. She’s always pulling on my hair. She get two hand full and she have an evil grin on her face. You gotta see it. I’m telling you I don’t know what got into that girl. I think she is going to be the fighter in my family. I think she got fighting blood. She love to fight already. Every kid she meet, when she first meet a kid, she gotta smack ‘em.
On the difficulty of focusing on fighting with movie offers and all the other distractions:
“Nah, come on. Forget about it. I gotta do a movie as soon as I get done fighting and I don’t even remember that I had already planned stuff. I gotta cancel now because I gott a do this little movie for a few days. That stuff don’t … Juanito look after that stuff. I don’t write that stuff down, so I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m oblivious to everything. I don’t watch the news. I don’t read newspapers. All I do is play video games, kick it with my kids, go to clubs, train hard and fight.
On the rumors that he had gotten up to 240-250 pounds and how hard it was getting back into shape:
“Nah, it wasn’t hard. Come on, all you got to do is eat right. That’s the thing that suck. You train hard and run. I started losing weight in like the first week. Here’s the secret, you drink a lot of water and you eat right. When you training, the weight is going to fall off. You going to piss it off and it’s going to fall off.