It’s been nearly 15 years since Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Wanderlei Silva faced off for the first time but there’s no love lost in what is regarded as one of the most heated rivalries in MMA history.
At Bellator 206, “Rampage” and Silva will add another chapter to that storied rivalry when they clash in a heavyweight bout on Saturday night.
The last time the two fighters met, Jackson finally got a measure of revenge following two prior losses to Silva when he knocked out the former PRIDE champion with a vicious first round knockout in 2008.
Nearly a decade later, Jackson and Silva both have quite a few more miles on their tires but that doesn’t mean the desire to win has lessened for either fighter going into their fourth matchup.
As nasty as their rivalry has been over the years, Jackson still has a begrudging respect for Silva, who is considered an absolute legend in the sport with a resume that’s nearly unmatched by anybody else in history.
“He’s one of the dying breed of the true MMA fighters in my opinion,” Jackson said about Silva ahead of Bellator 206. “I feel like fighters like Wanderlei’s style and my style and Chuck Liddell’s style and older fighters’ styles that made this sport so popular.
“I’m super excited to be fighting against an opponent who’s down to scrap and down to be entertaining for the fans.”
Now there’s no doubt that when it comes time to face off at the weigh-ins on Friday and then again in the cage on Saturday, the disdain between Jackson and Silva will be palpable.
Still, Jackson says for as much as he doesn’t like Silva — and probably never will — he’s not carrying around that disdain for “The Axe Murderer” like a chip on his shoulder going into this fight.
“I don’t walk around hating people and stuff. This is my job, this is my career. I don’t like a lot of things about Wanderlei but I’m not losing any sleep over it,” Jackson said. “I’m always happy to get in the cage and punch him in the face.”
All talk aside, Jackson knows that Silva is likely at the tail end of his career as he approaches 43 years of age in 2019. If all goes well on Saturday night, Jackson looks to put him on the fast track towards a new career because he doesn’t expect Silva to ever want to fight again after they’re done.
“No disrespect to Wanderlei, but I figured I was going to be his last opponent anyway,” Jackson said candidly. “Because after this fight, he’s not even going to want to see a cage anymore.”