Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson’s recent hit-and-run encounter with the law reminded fans that training and competing are only two-thirds of the mixed martial arts equation. Jackson was arrested just 10 days after he relinquished his 205-pound title in a unanimous decision defeat to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86. The 30-year-old has since been charged with two felonies and could spend up to three years in jail.
“He was kind of bummed about the [Griffin fight],” said friend and one-time World Extreme Cagefighting lightweight titleholder “Razor” Rob McCullough. “He hadn’t slept. That alone will make someone act a little weird.”
Disappointment often leads to self blame, as fighters become overwhelmed by the feeling they have let down trainers, training partners, family, friends and fans. It anchors their perceived professional and personal failures.
“You can’t be embarrassed to be a warrior,” McCullough said, reflecting on his own high-profile loss to Jamie Varner earlier this year. “Win or lose.”
All celebrities walk a tightrope in the public eye, and professional athletes are no different. MMA fighters are slowly entering mainstream circles and some, like Jackson, have even started earning their Hollywood stripes. With greater fame comes the risk of greater falls.