Quinton Jackson has dominated recent mixed martial arts (MMA) headlines (and professional wrestling) when it was announced that he had found a home with Bellator MMA after walking away from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) earlier this year.
The hot and cold relationships he had with certain ZUFFA executives in general and UFC President Dana White in particular are well documented.
But, according to Jackson, those days are behind him now, because as the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion declared on a recent media conference call, partnering with Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney signifies that he is finally with a promoter who "get's it."
"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 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. Sometimes, in the past with promoters, 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 got started in this, that's why I started wrestling in high school. That's why I used to fight the way I used to fight when I was younger, I used to slam people, power bombs and stuff like that. My dream has come true. I get to go to TNA and do some pro wrestling. I felt I could do this, be in front of cameras and not be shy. Like the "A-Team" movie, I want to be an action guy, I want to be a big kid and you guys are making my dreams come true. It makes me feel like all the hard work and all the things I did to my body in the past is all paying off now. I lost a lot of love for MMA when I was in the UFC. Honestly they just killed it, they 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."
While White was adamant he didn't have any beef with Jackson toward the end of his tenure, he did debunk any claims that the former Pride FC star made about the UFC's pay scale and pay-per-view (PPV) numbers, disclosing that "Rampage" has made more than $15 million plying his trade inside the Octagon.
According to Jackson, not all was bad with White and Co. in the beginning of their relationship. However, when he turned his attention to the bright lights of Hollywood, their partnership began to cool.
He breaks it down:
"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."
With a new beginning and "big changes" ahead of him with Bellator and TNA Impact Wrestling, Jackson proclaims he is now "happy as hell" and won't be worrying about problems with the higher ups outside of the cage and the ring.
And it's a good thing, too, because as the former UFC champion also revealed that he will retire from the sport once his obligations for Bellator are complete. A promotion that is helping him spread his wings as a fighter, wrestler, actor and screenwriter.