It seems that the upcoming reboot of The A-Team has finally found its BA Baracus. It will be none other than MMA superstar, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (pictured left.) Ending months of speculation that included top candidates as rappers, Ice Cube, Common, and The Game, Jackson, who is untested in film, has landed the coveted role made famous by Mr. T (And possibly the signature character of the franchise.)
The casting actually throws a wrench into the cogs of the UFC's plans. Jackson actually just completed filming of the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter as a competing coach against rival, Rashad Evans. (In which former Internet Fight King, Kimbo Slice is participating as a contestant in an attempt to regain his credibility.) The traditional "coaches fight" between the two (Jackson and Evans) was heavily hyped for some time now, and will now no longer take place, as the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion will be called away to begin shooting the film.
This could be a mixed bag for the fighter. On one hand, Rampage was always the guy that seemed absolutely perfect for the role. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him, and not taking advantage of this could be costly. The man is extremely charismatic and cuts some of the best promos of any fighter in the sport. Even if it turns out that he can't act (which I doubt), he will be able to get by on personality alone. He will be a great BA Baracus, and director Joe Carnahan's film (ungodly reboot aside) just got THAT much better because of this.
On the other hand, Rampage will be in a tenuous situation with his fighting career. Having lost his UFC Title to Forrest Griffin back in July of 2008, he finally fought his way back to contention for the title after a unanimous decision victory over Keith Jardine at UFC 96 last March. The champion at that time, was none other than Rashad Evans. Jackson's victory hype after the Jardine fight led to the famous quote in which Jackson said there would be some "black on black crime" for the upcoming title fight with Evans. Well, after Jackson was unable to compete, Evans would go on to lose the title to Lyoto Machida in brutal fashion shortly afterward. Still having the title opportunity in his pocket, Jackson, instead of challenging Machida, opted to appear on the reality show (for his second go-round) as coach and fight the rebounding Evans. Some took that to mean Jackson was "ducking" Machida. (I am not playing "armchair MMA" and making that claim personally.) Now, we're at a point where even the fight with Evans will not take place AT ALL. (At least, as far as we know.)
The ever-opinionated UFC President, Dana White has expressed his disdain for fighters attempting to branch out into films, adding:
"Guess what Rashad Evans is thinking about right now,” White said. “He’s thinking about beating your f***ing ass. He’s not sitting around thinking about how him and his mom used to watch the f***ing Love Boat together and he wants to get the role of Isaac the bartender.’”
Jackson has made a calculating career decision, and it should be interesting to see if it pays off in the end. (Which it would, if the film does huge at the box office.) The door will likely remain open for him in the UFC, but he also has a reputation as a man prone to "distractions" (too much energy drinks + huge truck with a huge picture of YOU on the side + road rage = bad times for all.) Will he be able to return in top form? Will his work on The A-Team make us rethink our stance on reboots?