7/16/08: Say it ain’t so, Rampage
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is no stranger to whacky behavior. He played up the racial caricature concocted by the Japanese MMA promotion “Pride” earlier this decade to nearly offensive levels, made some truly off-the-wall comments during that time period, and then suddenly announced before his first fight with Wanderlei Silva in Japan that he was no longer going to swear (a trademark of his) because of a nightmare he had that scared him. “It was God,” to paraphrase.
As strange as it may have seemed, most of it was harmless, except for the part where he fed into the xenophobic racism prevalent in mainstream Japanese sports culture.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Jackson dating back to his days in Pride. He was freakishly strong, and that strength coupled with his natural athleticism led to some of the most memorable fights/fight moments in the history of Mixed Martial Arts. As a personality, his charisma made him likable and just as fascinating to watch out of the game as in it.
That being said, as one of his biggest fans I was disappointed to read this when I finally got in from working and doing laundry this evening (courtesy Dave Meltzer):
Quinton Jackson was pulled over this afternoon and taken to police headquarters after a car accident near Newport Beach, CA. He’s been charged with felony hit and run, reckless driving and felony evading arrest.
According to the Costa Mesa police, an officer observed him driving with a flat tire and talking on his cell phone and attempted to pull him over. He ignored the officer and continued driving with the officer in pursuit. Police had received a report of a vehicle with his photo on it involved in a collision on the 55 Freeway in Costa Mesa, that struck other vehicles and fled the scene, according to Lt. Paul Dondero.
The chase continued with the vehicle weaving in and out of traffic, including at one point driving on the wrong side of the road and even on a sidewalk, scaring pedestrians.
The officer saw the vehicle in a second collision while driving toward Newport Beach. Nobody was believed to have been injured in the collisions.
The car continued to Newport Beach where the tire blew out and came off the rim and he was arrested with a gun pulled on him and taken into the Orange County jail, where he is being held on $25,000 bail.
UFC president Dana White flew to Orange County upon getting the word of Jackson’s arrest and was driving to the county jail, believed to be to post bond.
To say this is shocking is an understatement. Dangerous in the Octagon is one thing, but one always got the sense that he was an easy-going goof outside of it. Jackson himself would constantly point out that the Quinton Jackson that walks around in day to day life is an entirely different person once his alter-ego “Rampage” stepped into the Octagon.
Some would view that as a warning sign. For those that aren’t familiar enough with Jackson’s personality and his game, his admittance to and embracing of what appears on the surface to be a split personality would raise some serious flags. However, I’ve always been of the opinion that his talk of a split personality and change in demeanor during pre-fight staredowns were nothing more than a marketable persona and an attempt to psych out opponents. It’s easy to identify the scarier individuals with a near killer instinct in combat sports, and while fighting Jackson appeared far too meticulous (and at times overly cautions) for his claims to have any validity.
So what gives? Well, what the story doesn’t tell us is whether or not he was under the influence. It’s also possible that demons in his past may have finally caught up to him, although I’m not sure of anything beyond allusions he’s made to a somewhat troubled youth. Whatever the reason, there has to be something more to the man since Dana White himself immediately booked a flight just to post bond. Say what you want about protecting a box office draw, but White himself doing the deed says to me that fans aren’t the only ones truly blown over by this news.
He thought he could get away with a hit-and-run in a huge truck that bore his name and picture on it. What the fuck, Quinton?