The whole “Rampage Jackson vs. Roy Jones Jr.” boxing match looks to have been a smoke screen.
Instead, Jackson’s first fight for Bellator will be against former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz who is coming out of retirement. Ortiz last fought on July 7, 2012 at UFC 148, losing a unanimous decision to Forrest Griffin.
The two will square off at Bellator 107 on November 2 in Long Beach, California in what will be the promotion’s first pay-per-view event.
Here is the official press release from Bellator:
Newport Beach, CA. (Wednesday, July 31st) – It was announced live inside the Bellator cage tonight that two of the biggest names in MMA Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito “The People’s Champion” Ortiz will meet in a light heavyweight battle live on PPV Saturday, November 2nd. The announcement was made with both Rampage and Tito inside the Bellator cage to a nationally televised audience on Spike TV at Bellator 97 inside The Santa Ana Star Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Rampage vs. Tito” will be held at Southern California’s Long Beach Arena, with tickets on sale at 10 AM PST this Saturday, August 3rd. Tickets can be purchased on Bellator.com, Ticketmaster.com, as well as at the Long Beach Arena Box Office.
“To have two of the biggest names in MMA headline our first PPV is awesome,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “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.”
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been re-born.,” Jackson said. “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. Everybody knows Tito and I have a very long history. He’s a former teammate and friend, and it’s one of the reasons I stayed away from the UFC as long as I did. But, I want to be very clear; any sort of friendship we once had doesn’t exist when that cage door shuts. I’ve got a ton to prove on November 2nd, and unfortunately for Tito he’s the guy I have to make an example of. He’s in my house now and Saturday, November 2nd on PPV, it’s going to be a horrible night for Tito Ortiz.”
“I’m back,” Ortiz stated. “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. Bjorn and Bellator put together an opportunity that made me part of the promotion, part of the family. I feel like I can breathe again and my old friend is going to be on the receiving end of all that happiness turned into an old school Tito Ortiz ground and pound beating. I’ve fought and beaten the very best in MMA history and on Nov. 2nd, Rampage will be the next huge win on my record. This is a new era for the People’s Champion.”
Jackson arrived in Bellator in June as a former Pride and UFC champion, having last fought on Spike TV in September 2007, in a fight vs. Dan Henderson that drew nearly 6 million viewers, making it one of the most watched fights in the sport’s history. In 2009, Jackson served as a coach on Spike’s “The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights,” the highest-rated season by far in franchise history, delivering over 3 million viewers per week. Rampage joins a Bellator Light Heavyweight division that features “King Mo”, Emanuel Newton, Vladimir Matyushenko, Attila Vegh and now, Tito Ortiz.
Ortiz joins Bellator as a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and throughout his career has been one of the most recognizable and polarizing figures during his sixteen year career, fighting the likes of Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort, Rashad Evans and Ken Shamrock. A true MMA icon, Ortiz will now start a new chapter of his career fighting under the Bellator banner beginning on November 2nd.