“No, f*ck them,” said Jackson on the Monday edition of The MMA Hour. “I don’t fight for no Hall of Fame. What do you get for being in the Hall of Fame?”
The former UFC light heavyweight champ repeatedly has complained about the payoffs of fighting in the cage, particularly in the octagon, so his stance shouldn’t come as a surprise to longtime UFC fans. His relationship with the the promotion was a tumultuous one in later years and ended on a bitter note over his treatment at the hands of UFC President Dana White, though he later backtracked after signing a deal with Bellator. After a one-off in the octagon at UFC 168 that came with a court battle, he finished his contract with the ViacomCBS-owned promotion on a 2019 loss to Fedor Emelianenko at heavyweight.
Now a free agent, “Rampage” is working on boxing comeback against ex-champ Shannon Briggs, with whom he repeatedly scuffled while serving as a coach during an MMA vs. boxing fight card promoted by Triller.
Although his time in the UFC solidified Jackson as an international superstar, it’s not something he looks back upon with fondness. He still believes the promotion’s business practices cost him in money and opportunities outside the cage, whether directly or indirectly. The UFC’s Hollywood ties and apparel deal with Reebok were prime examples.
“I don’t know if I say this, I’ll get sued by the UFC, but all I can say is, after I did the A-Team, some organizations made it really hard for me to do other movies,” Jackson said. “That’s all I can put out there. I can say I signed with one of the biggest agencies in Hollywood, and they didn’t do sh*t for me, and I felt like it was on purpose. Actually, I know it was on purpose because now they own UFC.
“That’s why [after] the A-Team, you didn’t see me in nothing else big. A lot of things left a bad taste in my mouth. I’m walking up to UFC, and I’m getting ready to fight, and I got a big Reebok contract, and then the UFC’s like, ‘Oh, we don’t know Reebok. You can’t have Reebok.’ Then, next thing you know, the UFC’s got a big Reebok contract. Then I’m like, man, what the f*ck? Now, where’s Reebok and the UFC, where’s that relationship at now? Both of them, f*cking shady on that deal. That left a bad taste in my mouth, and that’s why I left the UFC, and then the UFC told everybody that I retired, so everybody thought I was retired. I went to Bellator, and most of the fans that didn’t decide to follow me on social media actually thought I retired.
“When I went somewhere, people would come up to me and say, ‘Man, I wish you hadn’t retired.’ I’m like, ‘Man, I just fought a couple months ago!’ ... They had no idea. Most of the fans that mainly watch the UFC thought I retired, because that’s the narrative that they pushed, and they knew that I wasn’t going to fight for them as long as they had that Reebok contract, because I was salty about that. If Dana would have gave me f*cking some money and been like, ‘Hey Rampage, I’m sorry about this Reebok deal, here’s a check,’ I would have said sh*t. But he didn’t do that.”
At the time of his initial departure from the UFC, which came after the promotion purchased his contract in the now-defunct WFA, Jackson said his breaking point came when White disparaged him for missing weight for his UFC 144 fight against Ryan Bader. After the exit of Bellator chief Bjorn Rebney in 2014, he lamented he should “stay with the devil u know” amid a career pause. He welcomed a new UFC deal after completing his Bellator contract in 2017, but one never materialized despite the apparent repair of his relationship with White.
Four years later, Jackson has no desire to be honored by the UFC for his octagon contributions.
“I say, ‘Honor me with a f*cking check,’” he said. “MMA fighters, we’re not like baseball players, we’re not like football players, we don’t get no pension or nothing like that. Those guys get in the Hall of Fame, they’ve got pensions and all that sh*t. Honor me with a check. I got a lot of injuries and pain for making the UFC a lot of money and selling a lot of pay-per-views, selling a lot of tickets. What do I give a f*ck about being in the Hall of Fame? To be famous? I didn’t fight to be famous.
“When I first started fighting in King of the Cage, back in the day, this sport was a baby. Nobody knew anything about this sport. I could walk around and enjoy my life and enjoy my dates and enjoy times with my kids out in public. I could enjoy being at the airport without people f*cking hounding me for pictures. Why the f*ck I want to be famous with a bunch of dudes that want to buy me drinks? I love Rampage fans, but I don’t love being famous from dudes. I’ll be 100 percent – if there were a lot of chicks coming in the mix, too, then I wouldn’t be saying sh*t.”