Former champion says Bellator “gets him” while former bosses killed his love of MMA.
He might have made his name inside the ring and Octagon of PRIDE and the UFC respectively, but Quinton Jackson said he’s ready to expand his brand.
Already he has star power outside of fighting, but after signing with Bellator, ‘Rampage’ said he is professionally happier than he has been in a long time.
The former UFC Light Heavyweight champion has repeatedly criticised his former employers for their working conditions, and he did not waste another opportunity to hit out as he was unveiled by Bellator.
“In the past, the issues I had with promoters, I just sometimes felt like I wasn’t appreciated,” Jackson told Spike President Kevin Kay and Bellator chief Bjorn Rebney, who sat beside him at a conference table. “You guys get it,” Jackson said.
“It makes me think that all the hard work and the things I did to my body in the past are all paying off now.
“I lost a lot of love for MMA – back when I was in the UFC. Honestly, they just killed it. They drained it. But this new deal has got me so excited, and has instantly brought the love back. I’m happy to be part of the team.”
Rampage has not been seen since his UFC on Fox 6 fight against Glover Teixeria, which he lost in a points decision, and has not been close to the fighter that was once one of the most dominant in the world at 205 pounds for more than two years.
Despite being 35 years of age, Jackson said his new deal means he can continue to fight for another five years, as he organises acting and professional wrestling stints around his MMA duties.
‘Rampage’ said Bellator has given him the freedom to pursue his other interests, while also rejecting the notion the fighters he will face are of a lesser standard than those in the UFC.
“The deal they gave me set me up for the future, and when other fighters really understand this deal they gave me, I think a lot of other fighters that are not happy with their contract in other shows are going to come to Bellator, and the competition is going to come over,” Jackson said.
“(Bellator) doesn’t attack you for your sponsors. They help you get sponsors. They don’t get mad at you for doing movies, they get you movies.
“I always wanted to be a pro wrestler, that’s why I started wrestling in high school. That’s why I used to fight the way I used to fight when I was younger. I used to like to slam people and do powerbombs. Now, my dream has come true.”
Jackson is slated to return at the earliest to action in a MMA ring at Bellator’s Season 9 Tournament or early next year.