On an evening on which two Bellator MMA most feared would defend their titles and two tournament champions would be crowned, everything was overshadowed by one dramatic announcement Wednesday night in Albuquerque, NM's Santa Ana Star Center.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s much rumored next fight wasn’t going to be a boxing match with the in attendance boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. — no, no.
It would be an MMA fight on Pay-Per-View in November against an unretired UFC Hall Of Famer, Tito Ortiz.
“To have two of the biggest names in MMA headline our first PPV is awesome,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said in press release that came out immediately after the announcement. “Rampage vs. Tito is a fight I’ve wanted to see for years and to have it as our main event on our first Pay-Per-View is a spectacular next step in Bellator’s evolution. They’re both re-energized, excited and ready for a war. This will be a great fight.”
Twitter went aflutter after Ortiz walked to the cage to Eminem’s “Mosh” wearing his trademark beanie and holding his American and Mexican flags.
“Oh my,” MMAFighting.com writer Luke Thomas tweeted. He later added, “I don't care about seeing Tito vs. Rampage, personally, but I sure do see a lot of people talking about a Bellator fight on Twitter.”
Both men, who are friends, once pledged never to fight each other but times have changed. Ortiz is 38 years old and Jackson is 35.
Jackson has lost his last three fights while Ortiz has dropped six of his last seven before retiring last year.
In the joint press release rediscovering their love for MMA, they both blame UFC President Dana White for killing the sport.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been reborn,” Jackson said in the release. “My excitement, energy and aggression, it’s all back and bigger than ever. I feel like a kid again. The Rampage you’ll see Nov. 2nd will be better than any Rampage you’ve ever seen.”
“I’m back,” Ortiz said. “Over the last few years, my passion for MMA was completely killed, dealing with UFC politics and with Dana. I didn’t have that drive to compete, my heart wasn’t in it. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m free.”
When asked about Ortiz recently, before the announcement, White said that the former UFC star needed money and that’s why he was thinking about coming back.
The event will take place November 2 in Long Beach, CA. No word on how much the event will cost to order or who else will fight on the card.
Follow Victor Garcia on Twitter @MrVicGarcia