November 2 was not only supposed to be a big day for the Bellator fight promotion by being the date of its first Pay-Per-View, but it also was supposed to be special for the evening’s headliner, former UFC and Pride champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.
After years of being close with his scheduled opponent, Tito Ortiz, Jackson was finally going to get the opportunity to test himself against his one-time teammate and further cement his legacy as one of the premier light heavyweights of his era.
Unfortunately for Jackson (32-11), a neck injury forced Ortiz out, causing the bout to be cancelled. The event went on without him as a free live broadcast on Spike TV.
“It’s disappointing,” said Jackson. “I was looking forward to fighting Tito.
“That could have been a really good fight. I think if Tito would have been healthy, we would have put on a really good show. I trained with him for years, so I always wondering if we had a fight, how it would have went.”
Initially it seemed Jackson’s Bellator debut might wait until 2014, until fellow former UFC fighter Joey Beltran (14-9) stepped into the picture for a fight now scheduled to take place this Friday in Atlantic City, N.J.
“I was really relieved,” said Jackson. “I think when I was talking to my manager, they were talking a couple months, and I was like, ‘Damn, I wanted to fight sooner.’ When they found someone for me to fight I was more relieved than anything.
“I was peaking when I first heard the news, so I just took like a day or so off, but then I got my head back together and got back on it.”
When it comes to facing Beltran, Jackson’s strategy is nothing different than what it’s always been.
“He’s the type of fighter who likes to bang and stuff like that, so ultimately for me to get the win, I need to show him what’s up,” said Jackson of Beltran. “I need to be very aggressive and use my movement and do the stuff I normally do to be successful in the cage.
“I dunno… I think I just need to whoop his ass. I don’t make crazy game plans or whatever; I just go out there and whoop my opponent’s ass.”
If Jackson sounds a bit like a version of him in the past, it’s not surprising. He told MMAWeekly.com that he feels that he’s gotten his life back on track and he can once again be the dominant Rampage of old.
“I’ve got to prove something to myself and prove something to the fans that are still supporting me,” said Jackson. “I was a broken man and now I’m fixed and I’m going to show them.
“I plan on doing everything in this fight. I feel like the old Quinton from Pride.”