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How UFC can play the testosterone card against Rampage

By Zach Arnold | March 14, 2012

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The public relations war that Rampage Jackson has played out against the UFC for more money & ‘respect’ has been an utter disaster. Rampage did the infamous Fighters Only interview and that media outlet will not release the audio/video evidence of said interview, thus resulting in Dana & Rampage throwing them under the bus by claiming that Rampage says the interview (Gary Alexander) made up what was said in the interview. Of course, in his attempt to refute what he said was allegedly made up in that Fighters Only interview, Rampage essentially backed up the seven major claims that were made (during his interview with Bas Rutten for Inside MMA).

UFC’s demeanor in their response to Rampage’s damaging tantrums has been very un-Zuffa-like in terms of being patient as opposed to being overly aggressive. Given Rampage’s outcry for wanting a release from the UFC, he went on Twitter and said that he wanted to fight Mauricio Shogun instead of a ‘wrestler who wants to dry hump him.’ Last night on Fuel TV, UFC countered Rampage’s PR attack by claiming that Rampage will have his last UFC fight ‘this Summer’ against Shogun. Hey, Rampage wanted to fight Shogun, so the fans will think, “the UFC’s giving Rampage what he wants.”

However, as the inimitable Smoogy points out, the UFC is playing Rampage like a fiddle:

Did Dana say that Rampage agreed to the fight? Like I said yesterday, if Rampage won’t accept a renewal, UFC will make sure he is the underdog in the last fight on his deal.

This is entirely about money. Rampage doesn’t want to leave UFC and UFC has rode every PPV draw they ever had until the wheels fell off. Rampage has an extravagant lifestyle to maintain and kids to support. He won’t be gracefully riding off into the sunset.

I am let down that so few understand what this Rampage stuff is about. Dana just delivered a public ultimatum, not an official bout. There is no date and Rampage hasn’t made terms for his release. His contract is up, so all Dana did was designate Shogun to send him off.

‘Dear Rampage, want to publicly negotiate with me? Now everyone expects you to man up and fight Shogun. Go fuck yourself.’ – Dana White

I would now make the argument that announced a fight Rampage hasn’t agreed to is poor form, but I don’t want to off as supporting him. Rampage is the epitome of high maintenance. In this instance he bungled a public appeal badly and now UFC has him in a corner.

By announcing the unsigned Rampage/Shogun fight without comment from Rampage, MMA blogs will be helping UFC put him in a corner. Not that Rampage has many options left to respond with. If he says he hasn’t agreed to the fight, the fans will bang on him, not the UFC. If you’re still scoffing about the subtext of public negotiation, where have you been? (Frankie) Edgar just did it. (Anthony) Pettis is doing it right now.

Rampage has three options here. 1) Roll the dice and fight Shogun on UFC’s terms. 2) Renew contract on UFC’s reduced terms. 3) Never fight again.

So, the current company line by UFC is that Rampage will face Shogun ‘this Summer.’ Given that there’s a major Brazilian show coming up this Summer with Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, it’s not a stretch to think that the UFC would have Rampage fight Shogun on home turf.

If the fight happens in Brazil, guess who’s the ‘regulator’ for the show when it comes to UFC in Brazil? The UFC. Marc Ratner and Dr. Jeff Davidson oversee matters. The drug testing. Fighter safety and guys who using TRT (testosterone). We know the UFC isn’t going to say ‘no’ to Sonnen using testosterone while fighting in Brazil.

But what if UFC decided to box Rampage into a corner by telling him he can’t use testosterone?

It’s a dirty question to ask because it would make the UFC look bad over the issue of testosterone usage by fighters. However, Rampage has already made the UFC look bad on that front by doing his public interviews with Fighters Only and Inside MMA. The New York Daily News ran a Victor Conte op-ed on the subject.

So, it’s not like the UFC can run away from the testosterone issue. The issue is not a winner for them. But you know who else the issue is not a winner for? The fighters who use it! Rampage is going around saying that he can fight for another 10 years because he’s using testosterone. That’s not the point of Testosterone Replacement Therapy usage. The point of TRT usage is to get back to normal levels for your age and level of activity at said age. Rampage is 33 years old. He may be an old 33 in terms of ‘fighting age’ but he’s still only 33.

So, if Rampage decides he wants to play hard ball with the UFC over fighting Shogun in an area where UFC is the ‘regulator’ of the show, all the UFC has to do is reject his request for testosterone usage and say, no, you can’t fight in Brazil while using it. Would it put UFC in a pickle due to the fact that Rampage fought at the UFC Japan show while claiming to be using testosterone? Sure. But I wouldn’t expect UFC to go public on any sort of rejection of Rampage’s testosterone usage. If they want to play hardball with Rampage behind the scenes, they have an easy way to flip the testosterone card on him.

And what if they played that card and he started complaining on Twitter about not fighting Shogun because he can’t use testosterone? It would absolutely backfire on him even further and completely erode any sort of public support in his currently negotiation war with Zuffa. Plus, if Rampage refused to fight Shogun, it would give the organization a way to ice him out on his current contract and keep him on the sidelines.

Lorenzo Fertitta yesterday told Kevin Iole that he still sees Rampage having some value as a draw. But let’s not kid ourselves — Rampage has no leverage here in his negotiations with the UFC. The only card I see that Rampage could play against the UFC in order to get money is the martyrdom card. What do I mean by that? Creating fear. The only sort of leverage Rampage could create, in my opinion, is if he decided to reveal everything he knew about medical & drug issues involving himself and potentially other fighters. In other words, a scorched Earth tactic.

“Pay me my hush money and I’ll shut up for good” about UFC doctors, testosterone usage, so on and so forth.

Given Rampage’s erratic behavior during his PR campaign on Twitter and during his two major interviews (Fighters Only and Inside MMA), he has proven to be volatile enough to where he may just say, ‘screw it, I’m not holding back.’

If he played the martyrdom card, it would definitely be a last-ditch tactic based on the calculation that everything else failed during negotiations. Is Rampage the kind of person who could proverbially shoot himself in the foot in this manner? He’s always been fast and loose when it comes to talking controversial subjects, but I didn’t imagine him going on a crusade for testosterone usage a month ago, did you? All bets are off now.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “How UFC can play the testosterone card against Rampage”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    1) I feel like Rampage will sign a new UFC contract or just flat out retire. I really doubt he is going anywhere else.

    2) Rua is going to wreck him, giving him 3 straight losses if he does decide to leave. And it is not like he even looked that impressive in his previous 2 wins before that.

    3) Will Bellator break the bank and sign him? This has happened before. Companies have signed the big names and couldnt handle the payroll. Plus no way he fights 3 times in 3 months.

    4) Fedor vs. Rampage makes sense but who will pay and what is really left for the winner? Nothing really….

    • pedalninja says:

      It’s highly unlikely you will see Rampage in Bellator, the tournament format will likely be a deterrent to signing with them, the only place Rampage can go to avoid wrestlers and drug testing is Japan, and that’s likely going to be where he ends up imo, no wrestlers, no drug tests, and the money he’s looking for, well sort of.. that is if DREAM will actually pay him for his work.

  2. pedalninja says:

    One could say that Rampage’s TRT therapy is partly to blame for his erratic and behavior. And really the UFC giving him Shogun without his approval isn’t really as bad as as it looks, he’s said on more than one occasion that he really wants to fight Shogun again and even requested to fight him in Japan. So really he gets the striker and the re-match he wants as a farewell. But maybe the UFC will buy him another car and they’ll make up again.

    One thing we’ve learned over the years with Rampage, is that he’s a very, very emotional guy, and coming off 2 losses, and the fact he’s never lost 2 in a row before either. It’s quite possible his TRT therapy has just amplified his frustrations and emotions.

  3. fd says:

    “The only sort of leverage Rampage could create, in my opinion, is if he decided to reveal everything he knew about medical & drug issues involving himself and potentially other fighters. In other words, a scorched Earth tactic.”

    That is, of course, assuming he actually knows anything about medical and drug issues involving himself and other fighters that he hasn’t already said. I don’t think that’s necessarily an assumption we can make.

  4. 45 Huddle says:

    UFC 146 is going to have all 5 PPV fights at Heavyweight. This will either be epic or a complete bust. Tough division to do it in.

    JDS/Overeem, Mir/Velasquez, Gonzaga/Del Rosario, Struve/Hunt, & Nelson vs. Silva.

    This is one of the benefits of purchasing Strikeforce and FINALLY having a unified division at Heavyweight.

    I would love to see this become a trend more often with different divisions. Makes it much easier to paint the title picture when all of the same division is one one card.

    It would work really well for Welterweight and Lightweight.

    • EJ says:

      While I would normally not be a fan of this looking at the match ups, I don’t really see much of a downside here. Most of the match ups are pretty good and filled with guys that bring it, I mean with a fight like Struve vs. Hunt it won’t be 3 rounds of sluggish action it’ll end quick with either a KO or a sub. Overall this really is going to be a great showcase for HW’s and alot of guys can put themselves on the map with big performances on this card in what’s the weakest division in mma.

    • klown says:

      I’m pretty excited about the all-HW card.

    • RST says:

      “This will either be epic or a complete bust.”

      It will end up being the ssame as any other card.

      Maybe less.

      When was the last time an HW fight “made” a card?

      Most of the HW’s aren’t as good as they are big, aand the ones who are KO people in under a minute.

      It will be interesting, but not as interesting as it sounds on paper IMO.

      Just a card.

      • RST says:

        I dont care for Country/Bigfoot either.

        The abuse joel silva and dana keep throwing Countries way deserves a Japanese style “friendly” smack.

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