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Rampage Jackson Bucks Criticism, Says He Wants to Be Champ Again

LAS VEGAS -- Before it happened, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson said that being a champion wouldn't necessarily mean anything to him. Even when he won the UFC belt, he held the same contention. But now, it seems like Jackson is at the point of his career where he's reevaluating some of his long-held beliefs. On Thursday, he seemed to reverse course, indicating that yes, it was a goal of his to re-capture the light-heavyweight championship.

That declaration -- "I want to be a champion again one day," for the record -- might serve to quiet some of the critics that hammered Jackson for his comments about a lack of excitement to face his UFC 130 opponent Matt Hamill.

After indicating that his career will come to an end around his 35th birthday, perhaps Jackson -- who turns 33 next month -- has begun to think about his career winding down, and setting goals for before he calls it quits. Or maybe he simply liked being the champion, and the bragging rights that it provides. Or maybe the money is simply better. Whatever the case, Jackson seemed to buck any thoughts that he is lacking in motivation for this bout and beyond.

The more you find yourself around him, the more fascinated you find yourself about what comes out of his mouth. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's insightful, and sometimes it's controversial. Some of his recent comments fell into that last category. But Jackson, who has been fighting professionally for over a decade, clarified the "excitement" remarks during a Thursday interview session.

"It's like a teacher being excited to go to the classroom every day," he said. "He's used to it. You guys may look at it differently than me, but this is my career. It's my job and what I do. I think it's weird when people think I'm not excited. I keep it real. I don't know if other fighters get excited or not. I don't know. I'm excited to be working and make a living and stuff like that, but another day, another dollar."

Jackson, in other words, said the previous comments were not an indictment on his opponent Hamill as they are a reflection of the way he approaches his career. Which is to say, it's a job first and foremost.

Part of that attitude stems from his love-hate relationship with the sport. He loves to fight, but he hates the training, the aches and pains, the early morning runs, the inability to eat the things he enjoys.

Because of that, it takes a lot to get him really amped for a fight, even if the stakes are high. He says even when he fought Chuck Liddell for the title, and Wanderlei Silva for the third time, he didn't find himself excited at the prospect. That changed last year when he faced rival Rashad Evans after the two formed an antagonistic relationship on The Ultimate Fighter.

"I really wanted to beat him and I wanted to shut his mouth," Jackson said, explaining that the match became personal more than business. " I guess thats maybe why I'm not trying to get excited anymore. I was under the impression we'd get it on and do the thing, but it turned into a boring match for the fans."

Jackson has no such animosity for Hamill, describing himself as "very impressed" with Hamill's ability to overcome his hearing disability while becoming a divisional contender.

Looking fit, lean and happy, the popular Jackson has plenty to gain with a win, as a victory may vault him into a fall date with light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones. That opportunity was likely one he didn't see coming, and so maybe one he finds more precious than he might let on. Earlier this week, he voiced regret for letting an opportunity to fight then-champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua escape him for getting out of shape between fights, and said he was "sick and tired" of blowing up in between fights.

To that end, he and a friend recently opened a gym nearby his California home, and he plans to stay in better shape year-round to take advantage of any opportunities presented to him.

"I'm trying," he said. "I'm trying to stay in shape but I'm a lazy guy. I dread going to gym. I'd rather be at home playing video games. But I'm trying. I want to be champion again one day."

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