Bellator Fighting Championships, Spike TV and TNA Wrestling will hold a special media conference call today (June 5, 2013) to officially announce a partnership with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Quinton Jackson.
The conference call will begin promptly at 3:00 p.m. ET. Scheduled to attend will be long time veteran 205-pounder Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Joining Jackson will be Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, Spike TV President Kevin Kay and TNA President Dixie Carter.
Jackson is a former UFC Light Heavyweight title holder and he recently became available when his contract expired following his UFC on Fox 6 bout against Glover Teixeira earlier this year. When UFC chose not to resign him or extend the contract, "Rampage" weighed his options and decided to make the deal with Bellator, Spike TV and TNA..
At 34 years old (35 in two weeks) Jackson's best fighting days might be behind him as evidenced by his three fight losing streak to close out his stint with Ultimate Fighting Championship. The part time movie star will be hoping to revitalize his career with a change in scenery.
Brian Hemminger here. The conference call is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. ET.
3:05 - We're getting started.
Kevin Kay: We're joining forces with one of the biggest names in the history of mixed martial arts, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. His fight against Dan Henderson had 6 million viewers was the highest rated fight ever on Spike and his season of The Ultimate Fighter was the highest rated ever on Spike. We're excited to be working with him again. We're working on a four-part reality series with Rampage. He'll be appearing on Guy's Choice. We have a great relationship with Paramount Pictures and we're developing scripts with Rampage, some movie ideas. We want to make this as big as it can possibly be.
Dixie Carter: Rampage is a global star. TNA is a global product. We're looking for him to make an impact in our world the same as he made in the mixed martial arts world. He's got a big personality. We're confident that talent and personality is a fit for us at Impact. He's very serious about his deal with TNA and he's committed to be the best at what we do. This is a unique partnership. This relationship works perfectly for us. We're going to be supporting and working closely with Spike, Bellator, Paramount as we build with Rampage. He'll be joining us on Impact Live tomorrow night live from Atlanta at our new time of 9 p.m.
Bjorn Rebney: A little over four years ago I was sitting in my living room and I was putting my finishing touches on a business plan to build a mixed martial arts company the way I wanted it to be built. I had borrowed every cent I could and four years later, I've got the Presidents of Spike TV, TNA and the support of Viacom and we're working with Rampage Jackson, an icon in mixed martial arts. He's been front and center in the main event of some of the largest pay-per-view events of our time. I'm proud to say he's one of my partners.
Quinton Jackson: I'm very excited to be a part of this family. You have no idea. This is something I've been dreaming about and waiting for for years. I've been fighting for 12 years. I have a promoter that "gets it." He's like one of the fighters .We put our life on the line and we entertain the fans. In the past, I just felt like I wasn't appreciated but you guys get it. I've always wanted to be a pro wrestler. That's why I used to fight the way I used to fight when I was younger, I used to slam people. I felt I could do this, be in front of cameras. I want to be an action guy, I want to be a big kid and you guys are making my dreams come true. I lost a lot of love for MMA when I was in the UFC. It drained it, but this new deal got me so excited and instantly brought the love back. It's hard to explain the way I feel now. I'm happy to be a part of the team.
Bjorn Rebney: A partnership is the essence of what we're creating here. In terms of when the fights will occur and what the competition will be, all communication we've had is he's re-energized. He's one of the most explosive, dramatic and powerful fighters in the cage. We're gonna sit down and talk about when the right time will be for him to return to the cage.
We work on these things for months and months and months. It was about finding out what he wanted to do and getting him energized, to make sure the fit was right to get him excited about it.
Rampage Jackson: Honestly, a lot of MMA fans may criticize me for leaving the UFC because they say that's where the best fighters are, but I feel that's ignorant. The deal they made me was so sweet. They set me up for the future. Other fighters, when they see the deals they gave me, other fighters not happy with their contracts on other shows, the competition will come over. When my knees get back to 100 percent, it'll be like before where I never turned down a fight. It's no secret that I lost three fights in a row. I lost to Jon Jones but who hasn't? I lost to Ryan Bader, but I was injured and I fought hurt, wanted to fight for Japan. The last fight, I was coming off the knee surgery and I shouldn't have been fighting. In Bellator, you don't have to get taxed for sponsors, they get you sponsors. They don't get mad at you for doing movies, they get you movies. I want to make an MMA movie. They're down with me. They bought me a nice car. I'm happy man. How they treat you over here, the competition will come over. Bjorn knows I'm rehabbing my knee. In UFC, they don't care. A lot of times you need a warm-up fight after surgery.
Before, I was talking about retiring at 35 which is in a couple days. Now, I feel like I got four or five more years in me. I've just been rehabbing my knee and lifting weights. I'm thinking about going at heavyweight because I'm older now and I want to stand with the big guys. I want to go out there and entertain the fans. I think the fans forget I'm the first ever unified champion. I did that. I just want to entertain the fans, put on great fights, go into pro wrestling in TNA and show what I can do. I think I'm a natural pro wrestler. I want to kick it with them and put on great shows. I want to entertain all my fans.
Rampage Jackson: Bellator didn't approach me. I told my manager Bellator has those tournaments like what Pride used to do. I like watching Pride fights and a lot of fights out there are kinda boring. In your contract, if you lose, you can get cut so a lot of guys are fighting not to lose. In Bellator, with the tournaments the guys are pushing each other. I think Bellator's gonna be the big show coming up pretty soon because of the tournament style. Fans want to see exciting fights.
Rampage Jackson: I had every show come after me. I thought about boxing, but I kept my mind on Bellator. I'd worked with Spike before. I started watching Bellator and I wanted to go there. Spike is the network for me. I'm an MMA fighter. That's the place where I want to be. It's right to the audience that watches our sport. Bellator's doing good and they have exciting fights.
Rampage Jackson: My knee is getting stronger really fast. I've got a great team of doctors and a good friend taking me to the gym. My knee is doing pretty good. I'm gonna start running probably next week or after my birthday. Before, when I was running after surgery it was bad for the knee. It's doing really good.
Rampage Jackson: There's some good fights coming up at 205 and I've got enough time to get in shape to do it. I don't have to take a fight on eight weeks notice. I'm a big guy. I walk around and won't have to cut weight. A lot of small heavyweights do good. I've never been a guy to turn down fights. It's easier now that I'm older to go heavyweight I guess. I'm nearly 35. I'm in my prime but at the same time, I think heavyweight would be a good move. I think I'd be faster than them and I'd like to knock out some big guys.
Bjorn Rebney: It takes a unique combination of factors. Rampage has that combination of factors. You have to have a spectacular wrestling background, a love for the game and the time to adapt to that type of competition. A lot of Bellator guys have gone to Impact events and had a great time and talked to me about a deal. Dixie and I have talked about different options. I can't wait to see the two of them together at Impact. It's exciting, it's fun. It's cross-pollination. Our dynamic is a different one. We're about building up Rampage Jackson, King Mo Lawal, Michael Chandler, and it's about building the fighters, not the brand.
Dixie Carter: As they're on our show, we're on their show too.
Rampage Jackson: The reason why Pride was so huge in Japan, how they got 80,000 people in stadiums, was because they worked with pro wrestlers.
Bjorn Rebney: The dynamic in our industry has changed so drastically over the last three years or so. I saw a lot of people simply trying to build their band based on the backs of fighters who have left organizations like the UFC. We've build the Michael Chandlers and Ben Askrens and Pat Currans. There are going to be UFC fighters that matriculate over to Bellator to compete and Bellator fighters that go to UFC and compete. We have like 15-20 of their guys on long-term agreements. You'll see that more often now. We're the two biggest shows in the world and you'll see the top fighters here.
Rampage Jackson: When I did the A-Team movie, that caused a whole lot of problems. I can't go into details, but I signed a disclosure where I can't talk about it. Going back to my fight with Rashad Evans, since then has been when I lost my love for MMA. I tried to retire a couple times and I'm actually glad I didn't now. I wasn't psychic, but thank God I didn't.
Rampage Jackson: I think my knee is a lot stronger now. I think I'll be good to go in a couple months. I'm working on everything now. I went to Mexico with some cool gyms. We're been working on a lot of Muay Thai and stuff I wasn't doing for a while. I got stuck on knocking people out and wasn't working on the rest of my game. I'll be ready to go by then.
Bjorn Rebney: Cheick Kongo has not signed with Bellator yet. Part of the magic of this relationship is I got to spend literally months working with the team at Wolfslair. You'll see some announcements about more Wolfslair talent signing with Bellator. We're doing big things in the UK and there will be a collection of fighters coming over here.
Kevin Kay: We know when the June 19th fight is, the July 31st and the September 17th will be but a decision has not been made on the new night. We thought TNA moving back to 9 p.m. was the right way to do it. That's their original time slot.
Dixie Carter: He's got a lot of training to do. He's made a commitment to take it seriously.
Rampage Jackson: I consider UFC as an outsider. It's no secret to me the UFC signed me for the Chuck Liddell fight back in the day. I was a very fan-friendly guy until I came to the UFC. It was hard to swallow when I got booed for knocking someone out, egged my house and stuff like that. You get so much negativity from it. Over the years, I did the Ultimate Fighter and the fans that meet me, they're cool people. You can't punish all the fans of the sport because of some negative people. I'm hoping to get to know these fans. I'm an MMA fan. I'll watch wherever the fights are. I love all my fans but I don't love all MMA fans. If a fan don't like me, okay. I'll still go out to to do my job and try to be one of the most entertaining fighters. This is the last promotion I will ever fight for so get used to me. If you don't like me, oh well.
Rampage Jackson: I'm gonna do it all. I'm gonna do both. A lot of fans don't understand this. When I'm in training camp, I set aside two months to prepare for a fight but there's 12 months in a year. I can work for wrestling in my downtime. I get out of shape when I'm not fighting so hopefully this will help me keep in shape.
Rampage Jackson: I remember being with Dana the first time. I was really excited. In Pride, I was disappointed at the way they treated me. I tell it like it is. I kept some of it to myself. It's like a new relationship with a girlfriend. It's all great at first. UFC, ever since I did the A-Team movie, it was like I cheated on them. Over here, I don't see that happening with Bellator. They're with Viacom and they got me all set up. These guys treat me really good. You guys would be surprised. Bjorn gets it man. He understands. I've been looking for a promoter like this for a long time. Some people think fans only care about their logos. I did a lot of favors for the UFC and I didn't feel like I got my favors back to me. I fought Keith Jardine right after Wanderlei and that was a favor for UFC. It took me years to get a title shot again.
Rampage Jackson: People thought because I did a movie I wasn't focused on fighting anymore. People always assume things. One thing you misunderstand is I'm here to entertain people. I come from the Pride generation where it's entertainment first. I know realistically that I won't win all my fights in Bellator but I want to make sure that all my fights are exciting. Two guys in a cage, one has to lose. You can respect it that way. My main job is to entertain the fans. Would I have as many fans as I do now if I went out there and just tried to win instead of being exciting. Kevin Randleman almost knocked me out but that was an exciting fight. That's my personality. I'm gonna be very focused to get in the cage and make sure the fans are entertained. If I don't win, so be it. I did my job. That's what I get paid to do, to entertain the fans.
Dixie Carter: With Mo, his injury took him a while longer to get back than any of us anticipated. But the most important thing was that he came back. The last few months he's been training hard and I'm getting great reports on him. Rampage will start right away and his training, whether it be OVW or in Southern California with a training team. I'd expect that to be much sooner than later.
Rampage Jackson: I'm from Memphis and I used to watch pro wrestling with my dad and my brother. We used to go out to the Collisseum. I used to remember the Undertaker when he was "Master of Pain," he had the craziest move that I'm gonna try to do in pro wrestling. He's a big, scary man and he's tall. Jerry Lawler is from there, Jeff Jarrett and I've always been a big Hulk Hogan fan. I was The Ultimate Warrior for two years in a row for Halloween. I used to bench press my friends. I can't wait to get in pro wrestling. This deal I just signed allows me to be a big kid all year round. I get to train for fights, train for pro wrestling and give you guys backstage passes to all this crazy stuff. I'm just enjoying it. I can't wait to get out there and show TNA what's up.
Rampage Jackson: I just want to go and meet the guys, meet the writing team, the wrestler. I might take some pictures for my Instagram. I'm just excited to meet everybody.
Rampage Jackson: I talked to Mo. It only makes sense. Me and Mo were thinking about teaming up and being tag team partners in TNA. We didn't see eye to eye in the past and I thought I'd have to put a whoopin on Mo. I can only take him for a short period of time but who knows, we might be best friends one day.
Rampage Jackson: Who knows what the future holds? I fought friends before. Dan Henderson was a great friend. Things happen. MMA is a job. Sometimes you just want to show we're the best. Fighters are alphas and you want to see if you're more alpha than the next guy. If it works out, if we give the fans what they want we can fight each other.
Dixie Carter: I've seen him powerbomb and slam people. He's got some of the skill sets down. He's such a gifted athlete and he's got a lot of wrestling skills. Bjorn said it perfectly. It's a different style, different training. It takes a longtime. Kurt Angle transferred from gold medalist to the wrestler that he is, it took time but Rampage will get it done and I think it'll be sooner rather than later. He's anxious to get in the ring.