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'Rampage' Jackson never dreamed of Fedor Emelianenko fight. Now Bellator Japan awaits

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Quinton Jackson knows not to underestimate Fedor Emelianenko, even at this stage of his career.

Jackson (38-13 MMA, 5-2 BMMA) takes on Emelianenko (38-6 MMA, 2-2 BMMA) in the Bellator 237 main event at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, a sort-of throwback style fight. Both men were stars in the PRIDE era, but they never crossed paths.

And since both guys are known to put people away, “Rampage” is expecting fireworks Dec. 28.

“Fedor is very, very dangerous,” Jackson told MMA Junkie on Tuesday. “Still very aggressive. Styles make fights, and I think the matchup between Fedor and I makes for a dangerous fight for either one of us. …

“Fedor is really, really good on the ground, and I like to think I have good defense against jiu-jitsu and all that stuff, so I don’t care where the fight goes. I just want an exciting fight.”

Jackson, the former UFC light heavyweight champion who competed at 205 pounds for most of his career, moved up to heavyweight to avoid draining himself in the latter years of his career.

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While he hasn’t exactly decided when he’ll walk away from the sport, Jackson says he certainly thinks about it a lot, but is happy he’ll get to compete in Japan again before it’s all said and done.

“Man, I’m 41. You don’t think … I think about it every time I get on the mat, every time I train. It’s all I can think about is my retirement,” Jackson said.

“It’s going to be like old times. I really do miss fighting (in Japan), and I was telling my coach like maybe a couple months ago, like man it would be nice to finish up my career fighting in Japan again. And he said yeah, that would be nice, fighting back there, so hopefully I can fight back there again.”

fedor-emelianenko-rampage-jackson-bellat

Fedor Emelianenko and “Rampage” Jackson face off ahead of their Bellator Japan fight. (Photo courtesy of Bellator)

Jackson takes on one of the greatest fighters of all time in Emelianenko, but he admits that he wouldn’t have taken this fight under other circumstances.

“If it was in the (heavyweight grand prix), that was the only way they would have gotten me to fight him outside of Japan,” Jackson said. “I would have turned it down to be honest. Who wants to fight their favorite fighter?”

Fighting Emelianenko is something “Rampage” never really thought of, as when both guys were in PRIDE, they were competing in different weight classes.

“I never dreamed of fighting Fedor because back when we were both in PRIDE, I wasn’t a heavyweight, and I’m a big guy now. I’m a heavyweight now; he’s obviously still a heavyweight,” Jackson said. “I knew it was a matter of time that I was going to have to fight him as soon as I came to heavyweight, but I never thought about it.”

Nevertheless, the some 15 years later, here they are.

You can watch the full interview with “Rampage” in the video above.

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