Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is supposedly on his way back to the warm and welcoming arms of the UFC, and it’s not hard to see why he’d want that. After all, regardless of what major media companies are backing Bellator and the deep pockets those companies possess, the UFC is still the biggest and most recognizable fight organization around. Why WOULDN’T a fighter want to have the Octagon insignia printed on their paychecks?
But there’s another side to the coin, and that side has a mighty big question attached to it: Why would the UFC want Rampage back?
These are the facts:
- Rampage, though a former champ, is way too old and way too spent to be a threat to the upper-level fighters in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division. In other words, homeboy likely ain’t never making another run at the belt;
- There’s one heck of a legal dispute looming when it comes to Rampage’s Bellator contract and if he was in breach of it by signing with the UFC;
- When he left to join Bellator, Rampage had nothing but bad things to say about the UFC; and,
- Given his resume and credentials, plus the modicum of name recognition and star power he commands, Rampage probably comes with a pretty heft pricetag.
So why would the UFC want all the baggage and inevitable drama that comes with welcoming Rampage into the fold?
The answer: Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar.
In case you’ve forgotten, Bellator found a secret sauce in pitting two very recognizable names against each other – a sauce so powerful and tasty that it enabled Bellator to kick the UFC’s ass when they went head to head on a Saturday night. And sure, Ortiz and Bonnar are the very definition of “UFC has-beens”, but so is Rampage, and who do you think Scott Coker was going to have face Ortiz or Bonnar next for his next monster show?
Therefore, it behooved the UFC to remove Rampage from that equation. Maybe Rampage will attract some eyeballs to a UFC event, maybe he’ll crap out like he did in his last few fights in the Octagon. But at least he can’t be used by Bellator now.
When your product is losing its luster and ratings and pay-per-view buys are in the toilet, sometimes the only way to win is to just make sure your opposition can’t win either.