Rampage Jackson eyeing MMA comeback in 2023, targets Darrill Schoonover as ‘dream opponent’

Rampage Jackson eyeing MMA comeback in 2023, targets Darrill Schoonover as ‘dream opponent’

Quinton Jackson is eyeing a comeback.

The MMA legend and former UFC light heavyweight champion said Monday on The MMA Hour that he is targeting late 2023 for his first bout since a 2019 loss to Fedor Emelianenko. Jackson, 45, said he’s hoping to fight for the United Fight League (UFL), an upstart promotion with which he serves as a brand ambassador alongside Frank Mir and Tito Ortiz.

“So this is what I’m thinking: I really want to promote the UFL, and so I would like to do a warm-up fight there,” Jackson said on The MMA Hour. “I’d do a warm-up fight in the UFL and see where that goes, and I still want to do a boxing match before I get too old. I’m 45 now, and I want to get that boxing match out of the way before I get too old.”

“I’m thinking I might fight around about December in UFL,” Jackson added, “because I haven’t fought in three years.”

Jackson (38-14) said his “dream opponent” for his comeback would be Darrill Schoonover, a former cast member on Jackson’s season of The Ultimate Fighter 10, with whom “Rampage” infamously feuded with on the show. Schoonover (14-8) has not fought professionally since 2014, however he told MMA Junkie in 2016 that a grudge match against Jackson would be one fight that would convince him to drop everything and come out of retirement.

“I don’t let stuff like that die,” Jackson said of Schoonover. “He tried to punk me. But[fellow[fellowTUF castmate] Brendan Schaub said that he doesn’t think Darrill would be down to fight.”

“My next fight, I don’t want to fight anybody that I like at all,” he added, “because I have to destroy them, whoever it is.”

Jackson said he’s expecting to fight at heavyweight and is targeting a competition weight of around 225 to 230 pounds. He said he’s recently lost up to 35 pounds since rededicating himself to getting back in shape, and fasts off and on throughout the majority of the week.

“Come on, man, you saw my last fight. Man, I needed a drastic change,” Jackson said of his weight. “I was just getting tired of being fat. And I want to say something to everybody that’s out there listening: Bring back fat-shaming. America, we’ve gotten so soft. Like, a lot of MMA fans were commenting on my posts and talking s***. I guess they thought I was going to get butt-hurt or something, but no, they gave me a drive to get off of my ass and do something about it.

“I don’t consider it bullying, what people were saying to me online. It was motivation for me, and I did something about it.”

The UFL is a new promotion helmed by Harrison Rogers, who serves as its president, which offers fighters medical insurance, life insurance, and “a stake in the company through various stock options as part of their compensation package,” according to a February press release.

The promotion’s next event, UFL 3, takes place Aug. 12 in Mesa, Ariz., and streams live on Rumble.

“He really wants to take care of the fighters, and that’s why I decided to join forces with this guy,” Jackson said of Rogers. “He’s one of the best. I really look up to him and he’s teaching me a lot about business, and I’m just really honored to know a person like this who’s really looking out for the fighters.”

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