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Rampage Jackson Cites Bjorn Rebney’s “Crazy Contract” As Reason Behind Bellator Departure

(“I’m tellin’ ya, Page, kids are gonna be lining up around the block to see ‘Fight Master: The Movie.’ Lining up I says!!)

I think Old Dad summed up the late career of Rampage Jackson best when assessing his signing with Bellator back in January:

Throughout his career, it’s always seemed like the one thing Jackson really wants to do is something else. When he’s fighting, he wants to be acting. When he’s acting, he’d rather be fighting. If he’s doing MMA, boxing starts to sound like a great idea. No matter where he stands, the greenest grass seems to grow everywhere except beneath his feet.

It’s hard to argue with. The former UFC fighter-turned former Bellator fighter-turned current UFC fighter has been a man without a country for the entirety of his career (if you were to ask him), with his most recent “tongue-kissing” stint at Bellator (Ed note: Gross.) lasting just three fights and less than a year. Given what we know about his employment history, you’re probably wondering: What exactly was the root of Jackson’s problems *this* time around?

The answer, as it turns out, is one you probably could have guessed: Bjorn Rebney — a.k.a the man that signed Jackson — was only able to do so by making a whole heap of promises that were…ambitious to say the least. We’re talking movie deals, reality shows, and a pro wrasslin’ career that included more than a hammer to the skull, folks. So check out the exclusive statement sent to MMAFighting by Jackson’s manager below.

There are a lot of rumors over what has happened with the Bellator split, so I would like to give the key points to the dispute to avoid confusion. Quinton Jackson ended his contract with the UFC at the beginning of 2013 with the Glover [Teixeira] fight. We then entered into negotiations with several promotions one of them being Bellator under Bjorn Rebney. Bellator was a fairly new Viacom entity and Bjorn used this position to attempt to construct a very interesting and lucrative deal. Bjorn included in the deal a Bellator contract, a Paramount movie deal, a Spike TV reality show provision and a TNA pro wrestling contract. This in effect created an entertainment contract instead of the normal fight contract. In hindsight I think that Bjorn was over zealous with the Viacom networks’ assistance he could rely on. Bjorn also submitted a significant pay-per-view model that was crucial to the deal.

The first nine months was fraught with multiple problems but we considered them to be startup issues in a new way of doing business. The Tito Ortiz fight was cancelled and Bjorn persuaded us to enter into a tournament to promote the King Mo fight, culminating in a PPV fight with King Mo. The PPV was not successful for our payment structure and we immediately informed Bjorn that the problems had grown too many and that we wished to restructure our position. Bjorn was removed as CEO within two weeks of this position. We were expecting a meeting on the Wednesday with him. On the Tuesday morning we found out in the press that he was gone.

Scott Coker took over the company and attempted many times to resolve the problems and simplify the contractual situation. Scott just focused on Quinton fighting and getting him paid well for it. Scott couldn’t rebuild the trust in the company as too much had taken place, and Quinton had lost too much time waiting for these hollow promises. Over a period of four months we have been bouncing between Scott trying to make things happy, and Viacom legal failing to resolve the many impossible breaches promised by Rebney. The one decent part of the entertainment contract was a provision to terminate if breaches cannot be resolved. We were obliged to give a 45-day notice listing the breaches. At the end of the period the contract allows us to terminate in writing to Bellator/Viacom. During this process, Scott Coker attempted to resolve the issues but was unsuccessful. We actually gave Bellator/Viacom 70 days in total. At the end we terminated in writing and informed all parties that we would now be seeking promotional opportunities as a free agent.

The UFC was spoken to and indicated an interest in doing business. They were very careful in reviewing our legal position. Our law firm, the UFC lawyers and an outside law firm all agreed that the termination was legitimate. I know Quinton’s announcement came as a surprise to the fans and it may have looked like this thing happened quickly. The opposite is true. This dispute has been running since June 2014. The final termination process took 70 days to finalize.

We are very happy to be back in the UFC and expect some great fan-favorite matchups. These will be revealed as always by the UFC. However we expect to be fighting in late March/April.

Scott Coker has indicated that a legal position may be taken by Viacom in relation to this but to [paraphrase] him from a recent interview, ‘This all begins by Bjorn Rebney giving Quinton a very crazy contract, he would have promised Quinton anything he wanted to get him for the show.’ Scott is being honest here and we believe that once the entire thing is reviewed by Viacom that common sense will prevail.

The tl;dr version: Scott Coker doesn’t have Rebney’s Hollywood connections, and he also failed to keep Jackson busy inside the cage in the months since he’s taken over. Rather than spend what few years he has left as an upper-echelon fighter toiling away in purgatory, Jackson opted to swallow his pride and return to the organization that could at least keep him busy.

Honestly…it’s not the most ungrounded complaint we’ve heard out of Jackson in recent years. It’s downright sensible, is what it is. Which is a shame, because Stank Bref Rescue is a reality show that I actually could have gotten behind.

-J. Jones

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