The wolf howls again, well into the night.
Quinton Jackson won his third consecutive bout under the Bellator banner last night (May 17, 2014) at Bellator 120: "Rampage vs. King Mo," defeating rival Muhammed Lawal in a three-round affair (check out the main event highlights here).
The decision was a flimsy one, since the judges at ringside felt "Rampage" got the better of "Mo" when they were trading strikes. Lawal's takedowns and his clinch work seemed to have gone unnoticed on the scorecards, since he lost by unanimous decision and let everyone know in his post-fight interview how pissed off he was.
Nevertheless, that's not Jackson's problem.
The Memphis-born slugger demonstrated he's still marketable to some degree, especially in a promotion that comes second behind Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). If there's one thing we've learned about mixed martial arts (MMA) over the years, it's that the Affliction-wearing bros and violence-crazed fans don't want to see a grappler bore them to death over a combatant who throws with bad intentions. It's not the same case for pundits and educated fans alike, yet we can't pretend like this sport doesn't attract individuals who simply want to see someone get caught like a deer in the headlights.
For Bellator to build its name, the organization needs fighters like "Rampage," and since he's on an undefeated streak after signing with the Viacom-owned company, sky's the limit when it comes to the time ahead.
In retrospect, Jackson should be facing Bellator light heavyweight champion Emanuel Newton next. The former UFC 205-pound champion won Bellator's season 10 light heavyweight tournament last night, which means he's slated to face "The Hardcore Kid" for the title. The current champion has two wins over "Mo" already, and the match up would be an intriguing one considering both athletes have different styles that could clash well together.
It doesn't mean Jackson would be favored in the fight or it deserves to be on pay-per-view (maybe as a co-main event), but it's a scrap Bellator fans would watch.
With that being said, the organization could take a different route, even if it would hurt their tournament model (because Lord knows we haven't seen that before, right?)
Tito Ortiz somehow stayed relevant in the sport by submitting Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko in the first round of their main card encounter last night, proving the doubters wrong ... again.
If you recall, Bellator was supposed to dip into the pay-per-view (PPV) market last year with Bellator 106, with a main event pitting "Rampage" against "The People's Champion." Ortiz had to pull out of the bout just days ahead of the scheduled event, citing a neck injury. The original plans were met with a bit of disdain from onlookers, since the bout wasn't exactly a mesmerizing one to headline a PPV, not to mention some felt Ortiz would be put in a grave after it was all over.
It's safe to say Bellator raised awareness with their offering last night and it's likely they'll try to book Jackson vs. Ortiz next. Both fighters have been friends for a long time and they even traded verbal jabs at each other during last night's post-fight press conference (replay here). It's easy for both of these fighters to raise awareness for their proposed meeting not only because they're big talkers, but they could also plan out pre-fight interviews behind the scenes to generate hype.
Considering Bellator would most likely want to book their second PPV sometime this year, they may not want to miss out on this opportunity.
On the other hand, Jackson looked a little distraught before the decision was read last night and offered "Mo" a rematch after their trash talking continued. The same story escalated at the post-fight presser and Jackson told his adversary he would be willing to lock up again, yet it's not like their scrap was a historical one. It was slow and uneventful at times, and despite Lawal having a point when it comes to the final call, we don't need to see it again.
Let's move on.
What makes the most sense for the main event winner is either a championship tussle against Newton or another "grudge match" against his friend (even though the latter option isn't all that fascinating or the correct decision).
It comes down to what's best for the sake of entertainment ... and we can all agree entertainment comes first for this hopeful promotion.
For extensive coverage of Bellator 120: "Rampage vs. King Mo," check out our live story stream here.