Thursday, October 8, 2009
Going into Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, anyone who had been following the UFC for the last few years knew that having former light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as one of the coaches would make for good television.
One of the most charismatic fighters around, "Rampage" is a goldmine for solid soundbytes and comedic moments, while pairing him with heated rival "Suga" Rashad Evans was sure to produce more than enough heated head-to-head gum-bumping opportunities.
However, this isn't The Rampage Jackson Show; this is The Ultimate Fighter and Jackson is one of the coaches, not a character on Spike's first attempt at a sitcom. After Wednesday's fourth episode, all that can be said is, "I pity the fool that has to be coached by Rampage! I pity the fool! I do!"
In truth, no one should be shocked that Team Rashad has won all four fights to this point, and not just because Team Rampage was put together by selecting the biggest guys, regardless of skills.
When Jackson stood opposite Forrest Griffin as a coach on Season 7, Team Forrest sent six of eight fighters to the quarterfinals, had three of four semifinal competitors and both of the originally slated fighters for the finals, Jesse Taylor and eventual winner Amir Sadollah.
Even during his first run on the show, the bulk of the attention Rampage received was for his poor handling of loses, constant trash talk of Griffin and those quality soliloquies everyone expected.
Notice his strength as a coach in helping his fighters improve and learn was not mentioned once.
Jump ahead to last night's episode and lessons from Quinton Jackson's Guide to Coaching continue in full force.
While Rampage is nowhere to be found, there is Ghosn, sitting on the sidelines after a training session, talking strategy with Demico Rogers, jokingly admonishing him for not exploding the fist pound. You've gotta blow it up...
At this point, it should be noted that up to this point in the season, Tiki has been the one doing the bulk of the coaching, while 'Page hangs over the cage, occasionally adding his two sense and getting his head shaved to resemble Kimbo.
These lessons come from the chapter entitled, "Be Their Friend, Not Their Coach." The subtitle for said chapter is, of course, "Besides, Tiki's Got This."
Fight day rolls around and there is Rogers, sitting in the training room, surrounded by his teammates and co... oh that's right, Rampage and the rest of the coaching staff needed to roll out and get food.
Coaching can certainly be a complex occupation with a lot of difficult decision, but is remaining with your fighter heading into the biggest fight of his life really one of those, "Should I Stay or Should I Go Now" moments The Clash was talking about?
Upon his return, Rampage offers up an instant apology, acknowledging that he or one of the other coaches should have stayed behind with Rogers. Too bad that understanding comes a few pages after the chapter, "Your Fighter is Fine and You Need to Eat."
The next great moment in the Coaching Clinic put on by Jackson came when Rogers was submitted via Anaconda choke in the first round. Here's a young fighter you're supposed to be helping, laying in the ring after suffering a tough loss and what does Coach Rampage do?
It's Team Rashad that comes to console the dejected Demico. Both Evans and coach Trevor Wittman come to offer support to the young fighter who knows a golden opportunity has passed him by, while Rampage sits on his stool, pondering how his fighter lost and tapped to an Anaconda choke.
He even hesitated at giving up the damn stool when Tiki wanted to bring it into the ring for Rogers, with Rampage saying he didn't feel Rogers needed the stool since the fight didn't even make it out of the first round.
These crucial coaching strategies can be found on page 197, in the chapter "If You Lose, I Ain't Helping."
Down 0-4 and obviously dejected, a frustrated Rampage calls an immediate coaches meeting.
The decision: we have to focus on fundamentals with these guys because they aren't at the same level of experience and talent that the veteran fighters and coaching standing in the room.
I would title this chapter, "You Don't Effin' Say?"
You can find your own copy of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's Guide to Coaching in the $2 Discount bin at your local bookstore.
Pick up a copy today... and do the exact opposite.