Ask beat-down artist Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for his predictions for UFC 100, and he says, “I don’t make predictions.”
“There are people I’m closer to than others,” he qualified on Friday night during an interview in the most atypical of settings, the pit area at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s Bullring asphalt track. Jackson showed up to congratulate Dylan Kwasniewski, the 14-year-old son of Hard Rock Hotel President Randy Kwasniewski, on Dylan’s Legends event victory.
So Jackson offered, “I hope that (Frank) Mir wins, GSP (Georges St. Pierre) and (Michael) Bisping.” This is the Rampage Jackson three-pick parlay. Call it off the board. The event is set for Saturday at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Reports are also rippling across the MMA blog pond that Jackson will be fighting Rashad Evans in UFC 107 in Jackson’s hometown of Memphis in December. “It’ll be great to fight in front of my hometown fans,” was Jackson’s response to a question about his appearance at the FedExForum. Given that venue corporate title, there should be a reference to the Rampage-Evans card delivering some variety of punishment, but we’ll wait for the UFC to dub the fight accordingly.
Other notes from the pits with Jackson: He said he’s doing his best these days to represent the true spirit of the UFC when he’s making nightclub appearances in Las Vegas (today’s Rampage is accessible and really funny, but the fighter has occasionally been something other than that). “I’m sort of always working. I surround myself with good people and just try to enjoy myself.” Jackson said he is rarely challenged physically by quasi-macho club inhabitants who might be powered by the fluid courage that is Grey Goose. “It doesn’t happen when you make a living fighting in a cage and can whip anyone’s ass.”
Also meeting Jackson that night was Las Vegas Magazine Editor Leslie Frisbee (LVM is a sister publication to the Sun), and Jackson started playfully jabbing at her shoulder. He’d do this every few seconds. Say something -- jab. Say something -- jab. It was like an involuntary response. I was thinking, “I hope this guy doesn’t have a Chuck Liddell flashback.”
Making it to the show
During my biweekly appearance on Fox 5’s “MORE” show Wednesday morning, I met Las Vegas firefighter Anthony Johns. Johns is noteworthy not only because he is a firefighter, but because he is one of the remarkably fortunate fans who won tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial at Staples Center in L.A. Johns said he filled out the online form as a lark, not expecting to be among the 19,000 seated for the ceremony (1.6 million people, and maybe a chimp or two, tried for seats). But Johns found out Saturday morning he’d been selected, as an email topped by the word “Congratulations” revealed the stunning news. Those who were awarded seats had to make it to L.A., Dodger Stadium actually, to pick up the tickets. “People came in from all over the country, all over the world,” Johns said. “People from England who found out Saturday made it to L.A. by Sunday to get these tickets.” Johns wasn’t the only Las Vegan to be awarded entry into the Staples Center, as my colleague and LasVegasWeekly.com Editor Sarah Feldberg interviewed Las Vegas DJ Zach Moss about his experience at the 2 ½-hour tribute. Both attendees remarked at how quiet it was at the beginning. “You had thousands of people there, and at the beginning, it was totally silent,” Johns said. Click here for Rachel Smith’s interview with Johns on Fox 5.
I saw “Menopause the Musical” for the first time Tuesday night as it opened at Luxor’s Atrium Showroom. I walked in expecting not to enjoy the show, or maybe making an active attempt not to like it, because just about everyone I’ve talked to over the past four years really enjoys the show. I figured I’d change up my typically agreeable disposition and play the uniquely discriminating standout for a change. But I liked the show a lot, for real. One thought: The “Menopause” cast is obviously confident. You get that feeling, clearly, in the audience. Primary players Sandra Benton, Emily David, Laura Lee O’Connell and Paige O’Hara sing and swirl about with a kind of … shall we say, cocksure attitude. The material is great, they are great, and they know it. Also, a thought about the three shows occupying the Atrium: “Menopause,” Carrot Top and the adult production “Fantasy.” They seem to have nothing in common, but they do, and it is that they come at audiences rapid-fire. If something isn’t working, sit still for a moment, and it’ll change. Which is the hammered-home theme of “Menopause” anyway, so it all seems planned.
It was the Las Vegas Hilton
More from Luxor: As the cast and crew of “Menopause” convened after the show, Alan Gist -- who co-produces the wildly successful musical with his wife, Kathi -- said a few words congratulating everyone assembled and thanking Luxor’s management team (headed by the still-bearded Felix Rappaport, the hotel president). During his session with the mic, Gist noted that “Menopause” had played for four years “at another hotel.”
What’s this “other hotel” shtick? It’s the Hilton. That’s the name of the hotel. Pretty famous place, at least as well-known as Luxor. Just turned 40. Elvis performed there; Barry Manilow still does. Rappaport and MGM Mirage Sports and Entertainment Director Richard Sturm actually once saw the show at the Shimmer Cabaret, which is in fact the small showroom at the Hilton. So, go ahead and call it by name. Leave the dancing to the cast.
Mayor can be murder
The show “Marriage Can Be Murder” has opened at Fitzgeralds, and on Tuesday, the guest cast member will be Mayor Oscar Goodman. Maybe they’ll make it easy on him and have him play Corpse, as Kevin Costner did in “The Big Chill.” Regardless, this is the best bit of stunt casting for a Vegas interactive dinner show since Kato Kaelin’s appearance in “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” at Planet Hollywood.