Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has endured many trials and tribulations in his fight career, but there’s one moment that stands out ahead of all the rest when it comes to his biggest regret in the sport.
While dealing with a few “bad managers” during the course of his career certainly comes to mind, the now 43-year-old former UFC champion actually points to the situation surrounding his most recent fight against Fedor Emelianenko in 2019 as most regrettable misstep.
According to Jackson, he was dealing with a medical condition that put him on medication that completely altered his ability to train and prepare for his fights properly, which came back to bite him hard while facing the legendary Russian in Bellator MMA.
“I regret not pulling out of my last fight cause I had a few health issues,” Jackson revealed Monday on The MMA Hour. “I had some health issues, but if you know anything about me, if a fight is in Japan, it’s hard for me to pull out.
“But I love fighting there, and I just thought I had a puncher’s chance; I could do it even though my health wasn’t right. I was misdiagnosed with hypothyroid and I was taking some medicine for it for a couple of years.”
Jackson said it wasn’t until he met coach Sam Calavitta at his Treigning Lab facility in California that he got better advice, which led to him discontinuing use of the medicine prescribed to deal with hypothyroidism.
“That guy’s a genius,” Jackson said about Calavitta. “My friend Juan Archuleta, he took me over there, I was training with him and [T.J. Dillashaw] and I got to know Coach Cal and he got to look at my blood and he said, ‘You don’t have a bad thyroid, something is wrong with your T3 or something like that, but you don’t have a bad thyroid,’ and I was on thyroid medication and it was messing me up for years.
“It was like a month before my Fedor fight when he said ‘that medication’s messing you up,’ and I immediately stopped taking that medication. So now my body’s just now getting back to how it’s supposed to be, getting back to normal cause I stopped taking that medication for two years now.”
In preparation to face Emelianenko in Japan, Jackson was pushing his body to the limits in order to make sure he was ready for a fight of that magnitude. Working alongside fighters such as Dillashaw and Archuleta helped him feel like he was ready to face arguably the greatest heavyweight in the history of MMA. But apparently his body never fully adjusted after he stopped taking the medication.
“For the Fedor fight, I trained very hard,” Jackson said. “That’s the hardest I’ve trained in a long time cause was I training with the Treigning Lab with those guys and they was doing different stuff that I had never done before. You see people flipping tires all the time, I never done that type of training.
“I was training with Juan Archuleta and they’ve got us flipping big 300-pound tires up a hill. I’m doing this training and training on a cycle. I was in good shape. I was on a really strict diet. I wasn’t in as bad of shape until I got to Japan and started ‘carbing’ up. I wasn’t really eating carbs. It just made me swell up, like really bloated.”
On weigh-in day, Jackson tipped the scales at 265 pounds — one pound under the limit for heavyweight fights — and he ultimately lost by knockout at just 2:44 into the opening round. It was a lackluster outing for Jackson, who just did not appear ready to compete when he set foot in the cage to do battle with Emelianenko.
“I couldn’t move. My fat ass couldn’t even move... It was the worst thing ever to happen in my career,” Jackson added.
While it was a disappointing outcome, Jackson has rededicated himself to return to action sooner rather than later as he reaches the final stage of his career.
He’s most recently been working with Antonio McKee and his team at the Body Shop in southern California, which is the same gym responsible for producing Bellator featherweight champion A.J. McKee. Jackson is also a free agent after finishing his contract with Bellator following his last fight with the promotion.
After an abysmal showing in his previous outing, Jackson is ready to once again prove the naysayers wrong just like he’s done so many times during his career.
“I’ve had times where I came back,” Jackson said. “Like after I lost to [Mauricio] ‘Shogun’ [Rua], people thought I was done and I came back to win a belt and then make history being the first unified champion in MMA.
“Even though I’m a lot older and stuff now, I want to make one last comeback, cause I love this sport. I’ve seen many fighters retire and miss the sport and comeback, but they wait too long. They come back after three or five years, and it’s just not in them. I feel like with the type of mind I’ve got and the heart I’ve got, I feel like I could come back and just entertain the fans.”