Jackson vows he is ‘refocused’ for UFC 123 bout with Machida

Before his fight against Rashad Evans in May, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson insisted he was focused on the bout and had not been distracted by his first venture into acting.

Now with his role as B.A. Baracus in “The A-Team” well in the past, Jackson admits his concentration had been diverted from his fighting career.

Of course, he also insists he is now back to fully focusing on regaining the Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title.

“A lot of things are different. I’ve been more focused and have a lot of time to train,” he said. “I took a long time off not training, and your body is going to suffer when you go into a hard camp. This time, my body’s doing good and I’m more prepared.”

Jackson will put his readiness to the test when he fights fellow former champion Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 123 on Saturday in Auburn Hills, Mich.

Jackson fought Evans after filming the movie but before the press tour and release. It was projected as one of the biggest films of the summer, but grossed less than $100 million domestically at the box office.

Had “The A-Team” lived up to expectations, maybe Jackson would be more concerned about a sequel or his next role. Still, he says he is happy he had a part in the film adaptation of one of his favorite TV shows.

“I did my job and I got paid. I don’t give a job who saw the (expletive),” he said. “I’m a fan of ‘The A-Team.’ That’s why I did it. I don’t expect everybody else to be a fan of everything I’m a fan of.”

Jackson is also fond of exciting fights, something he has accused Machida of not providing. While Jackson is a straight-ahead brawler with a power wrestling base, Machida is a karate expert who values taking as little damage as possible.

“I’d rather fight people who are going to put on a show like me,” Jackson said. “You know, stand and bang.”

Jackson successfully traded shots with Evans during the third round May 29, but lost a decision after falling behind in the first two rounds. Jackson appeared to be off his game early and now says he probably shouldn’t have taken the fight.

“I know exactly the reason why I lost that fight. I knew I lost that fight before I even stepped in the cage. The day I lost that fight was a couple of weeks before (it) even started, so it had nothing to do with the movie, tour or anything,” Jackson said, declining to specify the reason. “Sometimes we should back out of fights. Because the fight was so delayed and so well promoted, I still felt like it was my chance to fight no matter what the outcome was.”

Jackson missed out on a chance to regain the belt by losing to Evans in a No. 1 contender bout. No title shot is guaranteed this time, but the winner will be among the candidates to challenge for the belt Evans will try to take from Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in March.

Rua won the title by knocking out Machida in May, the first loss of the Brazilian’s career. Machida acknowledges the weight of being an unbeaten champion had grown heavy.

“There was a lot of pressure on my back because most of the fans have this aura of me being the undefeated champion,” Machida said through a translator. “I feel I learned a lot from that loss and it’s taken a lot of pressure off my back.”

The bout is one of two on the pay-per-view card that also features a matchup of former champions. BJ Penn will fight Matt Hughes for the third time in the co-main event.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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