[adinserter block=”1″]Bellator MMA announced that their first pay-per-view event is scheduled for November 2, 2013 and the main event will feature Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against Tito Ortiz in a light heavyweight showdown. This is probably the best fight you can make outside of the UFC from a name value perspective. That maybe where the buck stops, however, as there are several pros and cons that can either make or break the event – and maybe even the company.
This is a fight we thought would never happen since the friendship between these two fighters is well documented as going back to the dark ages of the sport. When Tito ruled the Octagon, Rampage was slamming his way through the ranks of PRIDE. Both were trained by striking coach Colin Oyama and often had the same people in their entourage such as Tiki Ghosn and Justin McCully. However, this is not a fight that people were clamoring to see because their friendship basically made the bout out of sight, out of mind, unlike the proposed Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko fight that the masses wanted to see.
Bellator needs help in the promoting department because their television ratings are fair at best. Rampage and Tito are two of the best self-promoters in Mixed Martial Arts and can hype a fight like nobody’s business. Their names are more recognizable than the majority of current UFC champions and as a result, Bellator will gain access to promotional avenues they’ve never been granted before. This fight will peak the curiosity of casual fans who normally don’t give Bellator a second look. Holding the event at the Long Beach Convention Center is the perfect venue for this fight. Both sides of the main event reside in Southern California and should be able to sell out the arena which can hold 13,500 people for theater events.
The combative variables inside the cage are more than meets the eye. Tito Ortiz has never evolved passed simply taking someone down, propping them up against the fence and throwing punches and elbows enroute to a decision. Even the way he shoots for takedowns hasn’t changed by just going straight in for a power double with his head down half the time instead of using angles to time his shot. Quinton Jackson is more well-rounded but he has completely fallen in love with his Boxing over the last five years. Fighting on the ground is not an option for the Memphis native as only a highlight reel knockout will satisfy his pugilistic affinity. Mixing up shots to the head and body will keep Ortiz uncomfortable as he attempts to set him up to land a right hook. Ortiz has had great-to-bad cardio over the years. Rampage has never had good cardio. If that is the case on fight night, it will be easier for Ortiz to take him down and inflict damage.
[adinserter block=”2″]Dana White’s statement of “No one watches Bellator for free” holds some merit, but the larger issue maybe the resume of the main attraction. Tito and Rampage are coming off of three straight losses. Tito is no longer the fighter he once was, Rampage has just started his downward slide and neither fighter is relevant in the championship discussion. As a result, this fight will be a turn off to anyone who favors sport of spectacle. It is, however, by far the most interesting thing Bellator has ever attempted to do. Before this announcement, I couldn’t convince anyone to come over my house to watch a Bellator card. Within minutes of the announcement, my phone and Facebook account was flooded with messages regarding the fight. Nostalgia is a powerful thing as Ortiz and Jackson were a lot of people’s first favorite MMA fighter. That could be the key to Bellator’s success because as of right now, more people are talking about them than ever before.
Atlee Greene is a columnist for Gerweck.net and Forces of Geek.com. He also writes about wrestling, mma and comic books on his own blog and can be read here. Follow Atlee on Twitter @MidnightLogicGo
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