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In the Ring With Rampage Jackson

Days before his last UFC fight, the mixed martial arts legend sounds off on sprawls, eating right, and making people laugh.
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Sure, the nickname came from a childhood spent playing video games, but Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was made for the Octagon ring. As a mixed martial arts fighter, he rose to prominence 14 years ago while fighting in Japan’s PRIDE Fighting Championships. He has since won both the PRIDE middleweight championship and the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight championship, becoming the first fighter to unify both belts. Known for heavy punches, a 32-10-0 record, and quick wit, he always finds a way to get in a “that’s what she said,” while running drills with his coaches. But even when he’s cracking jokes or stepping outside of the ring for an acting gig here or there, he’s always a veritable badass. Think: Bosco Albert “B.A.” (Bad Attitude) Baracus in The A-Team.

Now, he’s launching the Reebok ATV19+, an all terrain vehicle-inspired running shoe, and preparing to throw his last punch with the UFC. On Saturday he’ll meet rising star Glover Teixeira at the United Center in Chicago and will end his six-year career with the organization. We sat down in the Octagon with Jackson to find out how he gets in fighting shape—and what’s next for the champ:

MF: Gearing up for Saturday’s fight, what are your workout priorities?

RJ: This last week is all about making weight. I’ve got to lose 20 pounds by Friday. So the workouts are drills that burn a lot of calories and fat, and make me sweat a lot. First, I’ve got to get my run in every day. I run about three miles and I do a lot of game plan drills, practicing the moves I want to do in my fight. Say, if I want to take down the fighter, I do a lot of wrestling, acting like I’m taking a guy down. If I want to keep a guy from taking me down, I do a lot of sprawling and defense moves with pads. If I want to do a lot of kicks, I practice that. But for this particular fight I’m doing a lot of aggressive striking drills and takedown defense moves with my elbows and knees.

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MF: How has your workout evolved throughout your career?

RJ: I’ve been doing a lot more running than I used to because these ATV19+ shoes allow me to run in places where I normally wouldn’t run. There are trails behind my house and you don’t know what you are going to get out there. It’s all different terrain, which is good for me because I have a short attention span. I can’t run on tracks or treadmills very much. But outside I can go and see things. If I get bored on the track, I can walk off. If I get bored on the treadmill, I can just step off. But if I go outside and run, I can’t stop and give up. I’ve got to get back home somehow. And running is the fastest way to do it.

MF: Since you have to so closely monitor your weight, how do you keep your nutrition in check?

RJ: Now I’m working with Soulmatefood. They’ve got this really good system where they prepare all of your food and deliver it to you and all you have to do is warm it up and eat it. It’s like restaurant food, so it doesn’t feel like being on a diet. Since I have to fight at a certain weight class, I always have a lot of weight to lose. So my nutrition has been really tight. With MMA the workout is hard so you need carbs for energy. If I’m going to sprawl one day I need a lot of carbs for energy, so sometimes my food is high carbs. But now before a fight they are high protein and low carbs to help me lose weight quickly.

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