By Elias Cepeda
The past week or so has been an exciting one for fans of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. It’s also been a little bit of a worrisome one as well.
Jackson has gushed about his new deal with Bellator and the TNA Impact professional wrestling organization. He says he’ll only be asked to fight when he wants to, that he’s excited to finally get to try out a long-time love of his — pro wrasslin’ — and that the Viacom family that owns Bellator might create opportunities for him on television and in movies, through their Paramount pictures movie house.
Jackson left the UFC earlier this year, not just on a three-fight losing streak, but also embittered by what he felt was poor treatment from the organization. Likening promoter/fighter relationships to that of personal, romantic ones, Jackson told CagePotato last week, “…me and Bellator, we tongue kissing right now, baby.”
The fan in me has a soft spot for Jackson. Like many of you, I’ve watched him fight for over a decade. He’s always done so with courage and in exciting fashion. Back in the day, “Rampage” may have also been the most accessible top fighter in the world. There was a time where he set up a phone line specifically for fans. He made the number public and waited for calls. When they came in, he’d pick up whenever he was available, and chat with whoever wanted to talk to him.
Not a whole lot to dislike about a guy like that, right? So, if Jackson has found a new, better situation for himself, where he feels happy, no one can begrudge him that.
The thing is, we’ve seen this situation play out before with the fighter. Being enamored with an organization before ultimately souring on them, and feeling rejected and disrespected when it was all over. While with Pride, Jackson often seemed quite happy. He defended the Japanese promotion in public and compared it favorably to its competitor at the time, the UFC.
By the time the UFC signed Jackson, however, he acted as if it was a life-saving event. I remember speaking with Jackson near the end of his Pride tenure and again shortly after he’d signed with the UFC.
At that time, Jackson didn’t only express satisfaction with his new UFC contract, he spoke of Dana White as if he were a personal friend who had saved him and done him a favor. Six or so years later, Jackson and White routinely trash each other publicly.
During a media conference call last week, Jackson said that Bellator promoter Bjorn Rebney is a guy who “gets it,” and is the type of boss he’s been waiting for his entire career. Jackson says that things are different this time around.