Rampage Part of the Wolfslair Pack

Sep 11, 2008
The unexpected loss of the UFC light heavyweight championship to Forrest Griffin in July, coupled with a traumatic and publicized emotional breakdown thereafter, necessitated a change of scenery for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

Subsequent reports from leading MMA news sources in the United Kingdom confirmed the former champion had parted ways with manager and trainer Juanito Ibarra and signed a three-year contract with The Wolfslair Academy in Widnes.

“It’s no secret that we have been friends for a while,” Wolfslair co-owner Anthony McGann said. “Quinton has lived with my family when he’s been based over here, and he’s been unofficially working with the camp for some time now, regularly training alongside Michael Bisping and Paul Kelly and the team since the [Dan] Henderson bout [at UFC 75], both here and in America.”

Among the more heart-warming strands to have arisen from the story is confirmation that Jackson’s very much on the mend following his insomnia-induced public breakdown, police chase and arrest back in July. He still faces two felony charges and two years in prison.

“He’s as good as new,” a jet-lagged but happy McGann said. “I have just come back from [Los Angeles], and Quinton was with us at something called the Magic Convention; it was huge, full of many of the major clothing labels -- guys like Tapout for example.

“Quinton Jackson is infectious, and he was on great form,” McGann added. “He attracted so much interest from businesses, and it already looks like some huge sponsorship opportunities could come out of that event. People loved him.”

First step for the Pride Fighting Championships veteran will be five weeks of training -- beginning next week -- with an aim to get him back on track for a proposed December return. A rematch with Wanderlei Silva, against whom Jackson has lost twice, has been rumored but not confirmed.

Wolfslair protégé Paul Kelly, an undefeated welterweight who will take on Marcus Davis at UFC 89 in October, reflected on his experience working alongside the former UFC champion.

Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Quinton Jackson (left) trains with
Michael Bisping in a 2007 photo.
“He’s a funny guy,” Kelly said. “If he was any more down to earth, he’d bust the floor. When he trains with us, he’s cool, 100 percent part of the team. He doesn’t get offended by anything. In all respects he’s just one of the guys.”

Jackson, one of MMA’s most visible, likable and accomplished stars, fits in perfectly with his new teammates, according to Kelly.

“Our gym is a funny place,” he said. “There’s no such thing as ego here. In fact, anyone dragging an ego into the Wolfslair would last about two minutes; there’s so much piss-taking. We have some really aggressive sparring sessions at the gym. One time I offered to spar with him so I went over to introduce myself, and I was like, ‘Hi Quinton, I’m Paul,’ and straight away he said, ‘Who? Who the hell are you?’ From the first time he meets you, he’ll take the piss and, when you’re not looking, he’ll slap you full in the face; that’s just what he’s like.”

While few would consider a Jackson blindsiding a laughing matter, UFC 89 headliner Michael Bisping is equally enthused that his American counterpart has officially joined the Wolfslair fight family.

“Obviously, we’ve been working alongside one another for quite some time, but professionally and personally, I’m ecstatic that Quinton has officially joined the team,” Bisping said. “He’s great to have around, and having a high-profile, world-class fighter like him as part of the team can never be a bad thing.”

Kelly sees the relationship between the camp and Jackson as a two-way street.

“When Mike (Bisping) and I fight, he’ll come over to train with us, and when he’s fighting, we’ll return the favor and train with him at Big Bear [in California],” Kelly said. “I gave him a good go in sparring, and I think he really appreciated that.”

In one of his darkest times, following his arrest in California, Jackson sought out his Wolfslair teammates.

“He was calling Anthony through the night for support, talking about God and stuff,” Kelly said. “What happened was he’d went five days without any sleep, staying awake on just energy drinks; that would do anyone’s head in.”

While nobody affiliated with Wolfslair condones the ex-champion’s actions back in July, the camp remains supportive.

“I’ve been to Memphis and met his parents,” McGann said. “They’re a deeply religious family in a very religious place. They talk about God frequently -- I mean like all the time -- so while it may be a little unusual to us to hear Quinton talk about his religious beliefs, and it makes him an easy target for negative people, folks need to understand that from where he’s from, it’s very normal.”

Wolfslair muay Thai coach Dave Jackson, who worked with Jackson at home and up at Big Bear prior to his bout with Henderson a year ago, summed up how the camp feels about its latest and most high-profile recruit.

“People mistake a lot of his antics and take him too seriously, so often what he says is taken the wrong way,” Jackson said. “Quinton’s a great guy and a true character.”
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