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Rampage Jackson Breaks Out Serious Side for UFC 114: 'I Trained to Destroy'

LAS VEGAS -- Fourteen months later, there are few signs of the playfulness and humor that often mark the presence of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.

It's been that long since the former UFC light-heavyweight champion has been gone from the octagon, and if there was any joy about making his return, he did well in hiding it, instead illustrating a stoic, businesslike demeanor during Wednesday's UFC 114 press conference.

From the time he took his seat at the MGM Grand's Hollywood Theatre to the time he exited stage left -- total time elapsed: just over one hour -- the often-jovial and wisecracking Jackson rarely flashed a smile. Even the one-liners that he's famous for delivering were few and far between, leading many to wonder what exactly is going on behind his eyes this time around.

While most of the time he spent talking was specifically about the fight and opponent Rashad Evans, Jackson did peel back at least one layer into his psyche when he interjected his thoughts into the discussion. UFC President Dana White had just finished answering a question regarding the tension between Jackson and Evans on stage, and whether he thought it might possibly boil over right then. It was then that Jackson showed a glimpse into his current frame of mind.

"I'm done with the all the trash talk now," he said. "I'm done with it. I do all my talking in the cage. Let the record be known I didn't start the trash talk. If people come up to you, what are you going to do? Back down? I've been a fighter my whole life. I had to fight for everything my whole life. This is what I do and what I know how to do.

"Yeah I like to entertain people and make jokes and laugh. I always do that," Jackson continued. "I like to be that way and to entertain. But I'm done with talking. I'm done with everything. I'm just gonna show up on Saturday a whole different man and do my thing. That's what I do."

Seated next to his Wolfslair teammate Michael Bisping on the stage, Jackson was the undisputed star of the show, speaking about his short split from the UFC, the race issue in the fight, his upcoming star turn in The A-Team, his Evans feud and more. Evans was effectively a supporting character on stage and co-main event participants Bisping and Dan Miller were essentially role players in the drama unfolding before them.

One of the few times Jackson betrayed any hint of emotion came when Evans discussed how he envisioned the fight playing out.

"It goes different ways every time except for how it ends," he said. "For me, it's just the look in his eyes when he knows he's defeated. That moment when he knows he got his ass whooped."

Jackson, separated from Evans by White at the stage podium, let out a sarcastic smile and shook his head.

"I been in a lot of street fights, I grew up fighting," Jackson said. "I done pretty well in street fights not knowing the guy, not studying the guy, just my rage and the will to survive. I'm taking this fight back to those days."

His voice lowered eerily as he continued speaking about his ability to harness his temper in the fight, closing with a short summation: "I'm just ready to destroy. I trained to destroy."

Another time, when he was asked about his motivation. Jackson cracked a small smile while answering.

"If I lose a fight, my family makes fun of me real bad," he said. "When I go back to Memphis, it's bad. I got cousins, you can't believe it. They'll find every part of the fight to make fun of me, so it's more motivation to win."

Jackson's motivation though, doesn't need to go that far. The tension between he and Evans was real and obvious and has outlived the usual shelf life.

In a recent episode of "UFC Primetime," chronicling the lead-up to the fight, Evans said that he was going to send Jackson a Snuggie that he could wear after being knocked out. Jackson revealed that the half-clothing/half-blanket was indeed sent, though not received.

"The day it came, it was a real bad day," he said. "I was training so hard and I was so focused. I hate training, I ain't going to lie and it ain't no secret. So sometimes I'll be in a real bad mood. My people know me really well, and they knew I didn't need to see no Snuggie that day."

For most of the afternoon, the two were no closer than 10-12 feet until finally squaring off for a photo opportunity at the conclusion of the press conference. Jackson, wearing a red t-shirt and jeans, and Evans, wearing a custom gray suit, walked towards each other, both with hands in pockets, and went nose-to-nose.

No words were exchanged but the staredown was atypically icy until they pulled away, with Evans holding the stare an extra second as they turned to pose for the crowd.

A handful of interviews later and they were both done, Evans leaving first and Jackson following shortly, a serious look still on his face.

"I don't think he's having fun right now," Dana White said. "He's mad about this. He's pissed off. I've been to plenty of fights with him where he's having fun. This one isn't fun. To be honest, I think he's got a lot of pressure on him right now. All the smack talk that's gone on between these two leading up to this fight, the A-Team movie releases right after this fight. I think he's in the pressure-cooker right now."

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