The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Saturday night surprised nearly everyone by re-signing former light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
It’s been difficult to nail down what the most surprising aspect of the UFC being willing to bring Jackson back: that he left under much-less-than-friendly circumstances when he bolted for Bellator in 2013, that he lost his last three UFC fights before leaving, or that usually reserved Bellator president Scott Coker tweeted about Bellator’s intent to defend it’s contractual position with him.
Coker notably tweeted, “Let us be clear that Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson is under an exclusive contract with #BellatorMMA. We will protect our contractual rights.”
Let us be clear that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is under an exclusive contract with #BellatorMMA. We will protect our contractual rights
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) December 21, 2014
The UFC thus far has said little to defend the signing, although the UFC’s chief content officer, Marshall Zelaznik, said on Saturday night, “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 there’s any issues, I’m sure that we’ll figure that out as the days go on.”
For his part, Jackson believes that he was within his rights to cancel his Bellator contract and re-sign with the UFC. He says that he was in a dispute with Bellator, who failed to respond within the window that his contract with them specified.
Jackson’s camp posted the following statement to his website on Monday:
“After five months of grueling negotiations and gray-area contract talks with Bellator MMA and parent-company Viacom, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson officially terminates his contract with the up-and-coming promotion citing multiple breaches since the removal of President and Founder Bjorn Rebney. Jackson exercises a clause in the agreement that allows for a 45-day window to satisfy any contract dispute. Bellator MMA, failing to fulfill the requests of Jackson, was put on notice, failed to respond and eventually notified that negotiations were officially terminated.
“Jackson’s U.K.-based fight manager and Wolfslair Academy founder Anthony McGann confirms, late Saturday night, that ‘Rampage has indeed signed with the UFC.’ Details of the deal have not been made public. Jackson was available for comment late Saturday night from his Laguna Hills, CA training center Rampage Family Fitness and provided the following: ‘I went to the UFC and we put a deal together that worked out for both of us. I’m excited to be here. The UFC had nothing to do with me leaving Bellator. I was done with Bellator when I made the final call and they still didn’t do what they had to do contractually. I wish those guys the best but I’m where I belong.’”