When former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson decided to make his move to the United Kingdom and become a full-time member of the Wolfslair Gym, many wonder what the end result would be. The answer came in the form of an emphatic knockout of longtime rival WanderleiSilva at UFC 92 in December 2008.
Since that time Jackson has continued to train abroad in England with training partners like Michael Bisping and Cheick Kongo, while staying focused on getting his title back. The next step towards that goal comes by way of KeithJardine, who opposes the Tennessee native this Saturday night at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio.
Speaking about Jardine, Rampage had nothing but compliments for his opponent, and he understands the skill level of the "Dean of Mean."
"I think he's an excellent fighter," Jackson said about Jardine recently. "So you know he got big wins. He got big losses just like us all. You know what I'm saying? That don't make a fighter, how many losses, how many wins you got, what type of fighter. Anything can happen on any given day. I like Keith's style. He's got a good little style. He stands up and he likes to bang. He's a good fighter."
Coming into this fight, much like the third bout with Silva in December, Jackson draws upon a loss to gain motivation to hit the gym and train harder than he ever had before.
"After my performance with Forrest [Griffin] I've been so ashamed of myself, so every fight I'm motivated. I'm motivated to go out there and look good and win because I know what type of fighter I am," he stated. "And I was really disappointed in myself for letting myself take it to that point where I'm not motivated and I get it in my head that all of these guys are easy.
"There's no more easy fights. I'm motivated to train hard every time."
That motivation to train has pushed Jackson that much harder when working with his new team at the Wolfslair. He gives them credit for helping him get to where he's going for this fight, and beyond.
"I chose to train at Wolfslair because I see the way they train. The guys train really hard there, no non-sense, and they've got really good coaches there," commented Rampage. "And a lot of people would be surprised if they came and saw how the training is there. It's not like the best looking gym you ever want to see. They don't care about that type of thing. All they care about is putting in hard work. And there's a lot of guys that are training. It's a good training environment. Everybody at the gym is a fighter. It's the type of place where I like to train at."
Jackson also commented on the differences that a nutritional plan has made in his career, something he had never done before working with the Wolfslair.
"Actually it did make training camp better," he said about eating better before his fights. "It's doing its job. I never ate really good. I never took supplements and stuff before. So now I'm doing it. I'm 30 years old now and so it makes a big difference."
The former light heavyweight champion says as long as he's healthy and ready he wants to keep competing this year. While he is in no way looking past Jardine, if given the choice for his next match of another shot at Griffin or a title bout against Rashad Evans, he has an answer.
"I guess I'd probably go for the title shot," Jackson said.
While a title shot seems almost virtually guaranteed with a win, Jackson remains focused on Jardine at UFC 96, and everything else stays in the background.