Rampage Jackson and Bellator MMA – The Relationship Going Forward
By Christopher Jester
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson overcome his biggest hurdle in Bellator when he defeated Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal at Bellator’s inaugural pay-per-view. What should have been the decision to take an immediate title shot, Rampage decided to hint at facing King Mo once again. His reason? Just to see King Mo lying on the back after suffering from a knockout. Whether he decides to face Emanuel Newton, whom they both share a training relationship with Antonio McKee, Rampage Jackson has become possibly Bellator’s biggest star. And that now places a heavy amount of burden on the shoulders of the former UFC star.
Whether he has returned to form or not, Rampage Jackson has fallen into the trap that was ready for him when he was released from the UFC. He will now face the obstacles of what it means to be the big fish in a small pond. The pay-per-view draws will be on him, raising publicity and marketing will be on Rampage. What does that entail? That entails more responsibilities and more headaches that do not seem like Jackson’s cup of tea.
In one single night, Rampage helped Bellator define its future in the pay-per-view business. After suffering setback after setback in their journey in PPVs, Bellator could not afford another bump in the road. Bellator President Bjorn Rebney won’t admit it but he was resting his laurels in the potential victory of Rampage Jackson. Rebney could not have wanted Lawal to win (who announced Rebney was a “Dick Rider” after his loss to Rampage), who has been inconsistent at best since joining Bellator. Failure in Rampage Jackson at the top of the heap and on the main event would have been utter failure for Bellator and to Rebney’s pride.
Rampage Jackson may not want to fight Bellator Light-Heavyweight Champion Emanuel Newton because of the two’s relationship with their trainer, but Rebney has to be throwing fits if this fight does not come into fruition. Newton has been on a tear in the light-heavyweight division and is a potential star in the making. But he is no Rampage Jackson. People – fans and fair-weather fans – turn to a Rampage Jackson fight. That is just the type of star power Bellator wants and needs to become that household name.
With no commitment on if he will challenge Newton for his title, this leaves very little for Rampage to do other than act as a guard dog until someone else knocks Newton off his pedestal as champ. A rematch with Lawal is potentially viable but not obviously apparent. Let some time pass, and let Lawal gain some traction in Bellator before making that fight again.
Others are calling out for the fight that crash and burned in Bellator’s first attempt at pay-per-view: Jackson vs. Tito Ortiz. Ortiz who won an impressive victory on the same Bellator 120 card has found what you may call momentum for his career. But he was facing an undersized middleweight in a catch-weight bout where he appeared as the much bigger man. He won’t have that advantage against Rampage. And if Rebney was smart, he would avoid that path altogether. Old and probably past his years as a successful fighter, Tito Ortiz is still a commodity. He still has name recognition. Let him defeat some up-and-comers and gain some attention for Bellator before sending him to what would likely be a swift knockout from Jackson (albeit, those two guys have been close friends for years, so who knows what would happen).
In any case, Bellator has a rough path ahead of them when handling Rampage Jackson. He doesn’t necessarily have the track record that states he can be easily handled. What works for Bjorn Rebney and Bellator may not work for Rampage. From here on out, the best advice for this relationship is to tread lightly.
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