In a recent interview with MMA Today current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson says that “PRIDE officials” offered him a bonus to be knocked out or submitted without tapping.
The fight in question took place in 2001 when Jackson faced Kazushi Sakuraba. Here is what Jackson said about being asked to take a dive in the match:
They told me “If you win this fight, you get $10,000”.I don’t know if the president of PRIDE knew about it but they told me, “If you lose by knockout or submission, and you don’t tap, you get $12,000.”
I said, “But what if I knock him out?” And they said, “You get $10,000”. Then I understood what was going on.
It should be clarified that this was likely not a company decision to offer the loss bonus but was instead likely a few independent officials who wanted Sakuraba to win the bout. The exact details of who knew of the deal are sketchy and even though DSE may not have managed Pride very well business wise it is highly unlikely that the top management would have signed of on fight fixing.
Controversy such as being paid to influence results, shave points, or otherwise aren’t exactly new to the sports industry although they haven’t influenced MMA much to this point, at least publicly. The most interesting thing that will be likely to come of this is whether any other fighters disclose similar dealings or if this was a one time situation.
Jackson lost the fight when he tapped out in a rear naked chock, voiding any money he would have received and showing that the money was not a motive in the fight: win or lose. The situation was apparently not enough to sway “Rampage” from fighting in the organization as he went on to compete in 16 more matches under the Pride banner before eventually making his way to the UFC.