I’m the best fighter in the world. I’m the ugliest fighter in the world. Can’t nobody hurt me.
Stripped to the waist inside a tiny sweatbox gym inside an A-frame house on an industrial street near Big Bear Lake, California, a mixed-martial-arts fighter named Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is quick-stepping around a heavy bag, making it jump with thudding four- and five-punch combinations while chanting his mantra.
Juanito Ibarra, the fighter’s trainer, looks pleased. “I brought up his jab two inches for this fight,” he says. Jackson, the defending light-heavyweightchampion of the UFC—Ultimate Fighting Championship—will take on Forrest Griffin over the July 4 weekend at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Ibarra expects that Griffin will try to use his longer reach to keep Jackson from scoring a quick knockout, and that his efforts will be unsuccessful. “They have to have a plan to beat Rampage. They have to follow it to a T,” Ibarra says. “Their margin for error is tiny...