Ben Fowlkes
Thursday September 24th, 2009

You might think that in a time where everybody has their own Web site, blog and Twitter account, communication between two individuals would be easier. You'd be very, very wrong. If you need proof, just look at the Quinton "Rampage" Jackson-Dana White situation. Two men with a wealth of options for instant communication at their fingertips, yet they still find themselves in a war of words more suited to a junior high school homeroom than a professional sports organization.

It started when Jackson landed a role as B.A. Baracus (you know, the Mr. T character) in the upcoming A-Team movie, requiring him to postpone his grudge match with fellow former champ Rashad Evans. Since the UFC had already filmed an entire season of The Ultimate Fighter to help promote the bout, and since nothing makes White go from zero to livid faster than his fighters leaving the cage for non-pugilistic pursuits, the UFC president did what he always does -- criticize.

White told anyone who would listen that Jackson was a fool for stepping away from guaranteed money in the Octagon for the illusory promise of an acting career. He said that there was simply no way uttering catchphrases while draped in gold chains would make Jackson a Hollywood star. And he's right. If the acting chops Jackson displayed in Midnight Meat Train are any indication, the guy is not going to become the next Laurence Fishburne.

But as is often the case when two people talk past each other, it wasn't just what White said as much as how he said it. He's never been one to parse his words carefully, and when he painted a picture of Jackson as an ignorant jock walking away from the only thing he can do well for paydays that will never materialize, it rubbed Jackson the wrong way. And, since vowing to quit fighting altogether was as easy as posting a sprawling manifesto to his personal Web site, Jackson went ahead and called it quits earlier this week.

Ever write one of those e-mails where you later wished you'd clicked 'save' instead of 'send'? Then you know what "Rampage" is going through.

Or maybe it hasn't hit him yet. Maybe, with the promise of The A-Team just in front of him, he still believes that his future is in acting. It isn't. Jackson will be back in the cage, probably sooner than later. Partly it will be because the UFC doesn't let go that easily once it has its teeth sunk into a money-making draw. Just ask Randy Couture.

But even without the UFC exercising its legal options, Jackson is going to want to fight again. He's going to miss the reliable paychecks from the UFC, and he might even discover that he misses the feeling of stepping into an arena in front of a stadium of screaming fans. Long days in the gym, well, he's probably not the type of guy to ever miss that.

Before Jackson does or says anything he can't take back, he might want to look at the state of Roger Huerta's career. Though not nearly as high-profile a fighter as Jackson, Huerta also wanted to leave fighting for acting. He also got a fairly gimmicky role in a fairly gimmicky action movie. He heard a lot of big promises from Hollywood types and decided he could make more money without putting his body through habitual torture. But now that his movie is done Huerta seems to have discovered that it wasn't a path to instant stardom after all. Now he wants back in the UFC, and after two straight losses his negotiating position isn't what it once was.

Jackson might want to consider that little cautionary tale before he posts any more updates on his website. There's a reason so few pro athletes make successful, prolonged forays into acting, and it isn't a lack of trying.

He might not be ready just yet, but before long he's going to need to sit down with White and talk this out. And for his part, White needs to learn not to badmouth his own fighters, even if they happen to be on his bad side at the moment. In other words, both men need to start thinking before they speak, regardless of the medium they speak in.

When you get a couple of emotionally-driven guys in a dispute, more outlets for communication only mean more chances for them to say something they don't really mean. Or maybe something they do mean, at least for the moment, but definitely shouldn't say. Modern communication technology makes it easy to say something you'll regret, but it's still just as difficult as ever to say you're sorry.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.