When Quinton Jackson steps into the Octagon tomorrow night in Saitama, Japan at UFC 144 he’ll likely do so to the sounds of raucous approval despite the nation’s fans having a reputation for relative silence. As any true fan of MMA knows, “Rampage” spent a good portion of his career under the PRIDE banner where he built up an impressive following based on his showmanship and skill.
The love between Jackson and Japanese fans is mutual with the 33-year old former champion also making it a point to fight on this weekend’s card, even expressing a willingness to be part of the preliminary portion if necessary.
Jackson elaborated on his feelings for Japan in a recent interview with the UFC’s website where he said, while beating opponent Ryan Bader isn’t personal to him, treating the fans to a fantastic fight is.
“It’s very important to be personally. My kids are from Japan, my kids’ grandparents are from there,” said Jackson. “They’ve never really watched me fight back in the day, and I’ve got a lot of experience in Japan. I really miss the fans; I’m not going to lie. I really miss fighting there, so it was something personal for me, so my two younger kids can come watch me fight and the in-laws can be in the crowd and watch me fight. I never had that before, so it is something that I want to do.”
“Honestly, I got nothing against Ryan Bader,” he continued. “He’s a cool guy. He never talked trash against me. When I fight guys like this, it’s never nothing personal. Most times anyway. But I’m just going out there like a guy putting on a great show for the fans. I’ve got nothing against Ryan Bader at all. I’m still going to try to knock his head off. But there ain’t going to be no hard feelings about it.”
Part of Jackson’s appreciation for the culture in Japan, as well as his desire to wow the audience, has to do with their approach to MMA in comparison to that of the fans back home in the States.
“I think I was so popular in Japan because of my fight style. I was young and I didn’t care. I just wanted to put on fights for the crowd and they love that type of stuff,” Jackson said. “In America, everybody is always worried about who’s going to win and who’s winning. It isn’t all about that (in Japan) – it’s entertainment at the end of the day. The fans want to see an entertaining fight and the fans got that. In America, I don’t think we have that yet.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC
MMATraining Take: Jackson has a point about the differences between fighting in Japan and America. It’s much more about “the spectacle” there and more about “the skill” here. Neither is necessarily right or wrong and both have a place in MMA. Hopefully one day there will be a happy medium where fights are both entertaining AND packed with talent.