During last night’s UFC Fight Night 58 event on FOX Sports 1 it was announced that former light-heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson has re-signed for the UFC after a stint in rival promotion Bellator.
The announcement has immediately raised eyebrows for a number of reasons, not least the fact that Bellator claim that the 36 year-old, who won their 205lb tournament earlier in the year, is still under contract with them.
“Let us be clear that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is under an exclusive contract with #BellatorMMA,” Bellator CEO Scott Coker wrote on Twitter. “We will protect our contractual rights.”
However, at last night’s UFC post-fight press conference Marshall Zelaznik told the assembled media that they were convinced there was no issue with the signing.
“I can assure you that if the UFC signed him, the UFC feels optimistic and confident that he’s in a position to be signed. If we expect there’s any issue, I’m sure we’ll figure that out as the days go on.”
Then ‘Rampage’ himself appeared on FOX Sports 1 post-fight to explain more of the details as to why he had suddenly jumped ship in order to return to the Octagon.
“I haven’t been happy with my contract with Bellator for awhile, since after the pay-per-view with ‘King Mo’ fight… (former Bellator CEO) Bjorn Rebney, I don’t know what happened. He left Bellator or got fired, and the contract just wasn’t right. And my manager and I were trying to fix it, and Bellator had 45 days. I terminated the contract.”
“It’s just one of those things where people don’t honor their contracts and it’s just not cool,” Jackson continued. “You can be a big company and that means you don’t have to honor your contracts?
“The UFC, the one thing about them, they did honor their contract no matter what things went wrong with them. At least they did honor their contract. You sign a contract for a reason. You’re bound by law to do what you say you’re going to do. If you can’t honor your contract, that’s the type of company I don’t really want to be associated with.”
According to MMAfighting.com’s Ariel Helwani part of the issue may have been that Bellator hadn’t provided ‘Rampage’ with the pay-per-view numbers for his fight with ‘King Mo’ which had been the promotions first foray into that market.
There had been claims in the weeks after the event from Spike TV (who are owned by Viacom as are Bellator) president Kevin Kay that the PPV may have attracted as many as 100,000 buyers which came as something of a surprise, though the exact figures have never been made publicly available in order to verify that.
Just a couple of years ago it would have been hard to envisage the UFC bringing back ‘Rampage’ after he left the promotion complaining that he was being poorly treated, not to mention the fact that he was on a three-fight losing streak.
Since then ‘Rampage’ has notched up a 3-0 record in the Bellator cage, but there had been signs recently that he had become unsettled, hinting on Twitter that he’d made a mistake by leaving the UFC, stating, “better the devil you know.”