Rumors have been swirling all week regarding Rampage returning to the UFC. MMA journalist Josh Gross tweeted not that long ago that Scott Coker told him that Rampage is still under contract to Bellator. Either something has changed or Gross was lied to because it appears that Rampage is heading back.
Sherdog broke the news on Twitter Saturday night. “I have confirmed from sources that @Rampage4real has signed by the UFC.” – @Sherdoggy
Jackson left the UFC in 2013 when his contract expired. Jackson signed with Bellator for a deal that reportedly included television appearances and a contract with TNA Wrestling. Jackson only made a handful of appearances for TNA and never trained for pro wrestling. I don’t recall seeing Jackson hosting any non-MMA Spike specials.
Jackson went undefeated in Bellator and looked pretty damned good. Jackson went 3-0 and won the season 10 light heavyweight tournament final. Jackson had two wins by KO/TKO and went the distance in a big grudge match, winning a unanimous decision over King Mo. Jackson has been pretty quiet since, although many reports surfaced indicating Jackson didn’t want to fight again.
Jackson left the UFC off of a three-loss streak. Overall Jackson went 7-5 during his last UFC run, paying immediate dividends right away by drawing a monster rating for a title unification fight against Pride middleweight champion Dan Henderson on Spike TV. Jackson was never the same fighter after getting upset by Forrest Griffin for the light heavyweight title.
Jackson also accused the UFC about lying to fighters about UFC pay-per-view numbers. “In my opinion, I just feel like me and the rest of the UFC fighters are getting taken advantage of,” Jackson explained to MMA Heat. “I feel like the UFC is cleaning house. Like the pay-per-view dollars, they tell me one number, but then they tell the press one number. Pay me the numbers that you tell the press. Don’t tell me, ‘Oh, we only made this, we only sold this many.’ Then you tell the press, ‘Oh we sold this many.’ But then I’m like, ‘Hey, you only told me we only sold 800,000 buys, but you told the press you sold a million buys.’ [They say,] ‘Oh, we’re just saying that for the press.’ No, no, just pay me like what you told the press then, because you lying somewhere. You either lying to me or you lying to the press about the pay-per-view numbers. You know what I’m saying? If they’re doing it to me, I’m sure they’re doing it to other fighters.”
I think the move screams of desperation. The UFC are obviously responding to Bellator’s big Bonnar vs. Griffin rating with recent moves such as this one and signing CM Punk. Neither add anything to the UFC inside of the octagon, although both will take viewers away from Bellator and put them on the UFC. I can’t imagine either Jackson or Punk getting a UFC deal otherwise.