In some ways, it was a quintessentially Quinton Jackson situation. After all, “Rampage” had built his reputation as a fighter not on being untouchable or unbeatable but by being a bigger-than-life character who won big and, when he lost, lost big. It’s somewhat fitting that when Jackson screwed up on July 15, 2008, he screwed up big.
On that Tuesday, a week and change after Jackson lost his Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, reports began surfacing that the UFC star had been in some kind of motor vehicle incident. Details quickly followed: Jackson had led police on a (fairly low-speed) chase through Santa Rosa, California, after hitting several other vehicles, driving on the wrong side of the road and nearly hitting some pedestrians. By that evening, online tabloid TMZ had posted images of Jackson face-down on the pavement, surrounded by police.
While mercifully, nobody was seriously injured in Jackson’s police chase—which is estimated to have lasted all of five minutes—it had serious potential as a public relations disaster for his promoter. Jackson, true to character, had been driving an enormous lifted Ford F350, painted in camouflage, with his own life-size image and the logo of UFC sponsor Toyo Tires prominently emblazoned on every visible surface. However, an apparently contrite Jackson eventually pled guilty to selected charges, including felony evasion, and completed community service. In the weeks immediately following the incident, UFC President Dana White claimed that Jackson was delirious from lack of sleep and overconsumption of energy drinks, but denied that “Rampage” had been under the influence of any illegal drugs.
After that day, Jackson’s professional career continued with barely a hiccup. He was back in the Octagon five months later, avenging himself on two-time Pride Fighting Championships tormentor Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92, and would remain a contender in the UFC light heavyweight division for several more years before taking off for Bellator MMA in 2013. To date, Jackson has never had another incident remotely like that day in 2008.