Bellator pulled off the ultimate curveball on Wednesday night after rumors had circulated for more than a week that newly signed light heavyweight Quinton "Rampage" Jackson would make his debut in a boxing match against Roy Jones Jr.
Several reports surfaced claiming that Jackson and Jones had agreed to meet in a boxing match that would take place in the first-ever Bellator pay-per-view.
That all changed dramatically during Bellator's broadcast on Wednesday when Jackson was brought into the cage with Jones sitting just outside watching the action.
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet," Jackson said with a big smile on his face. "There's a lot of rumors out there, I don't know how that one got so big."
Jackson went on to say that he was a big fan of Jones and even bought his first gloves based on watching "Junior" put in work in the squared circle, but for his first fight in Bellator, there was no chance he was doing anything but mixed martial arts.
"My first fight in Bellator I want it to be a MMA fight, not a boxing match," Jackson stated. "Cause I love MMA again."
Jackson then turned to the entrance way where he said his next opponent would be making his way to the cage. With a little bit of professional wrestling theatrics, the Eminem song "Mosh" started playing, and from the shadows stepped former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.
The longtime UFC veteran and Hall of Famer had teased recently that he was working on a possible comeback to fighting, and now he has a home in the Bellator cage.
Ortiz and Jackson are familiar with each other after training together on and off for many years around the same neighborhoods in southern California. They had stated in the past that they would not fight because of their long-standing friendship, but they are setting that aside to take part in the first-ever Bellator pay-per-view on November 2 from the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.
"I fought the best of the best in the world. I've been fighting for a long, long time and Rampage too. We've trained with each other, we've been friends for a long time, but it's time to put the friendship aside," Ortiz said. "It's about giving the fans what they want to see and the best fight possible's going to happen here in Bellator."
During his 16-year fight career, Ortiz had only fought outside the UFC once, in his third professional fight. The former light heavyweight champion competed 27 times inside the Octagon, but for the first time since 1998, he will call another promotion home.
Jackson is also excited about returning to a main event against Ortiz after having his passion reignited upon signing with Bellator earlier this year.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been reborn.,” Jackson said in a press release from Bellator sent after the fight announcement. “My excitement, energy and aggression, it’s all back and bigger than ever. I feel like a kid again. The Rampage you’ll see Nov. 2 will be better than any Rampage you’ve ever seen. Everybody knows Tito and I have a very long history. He’s a former teammate and friend, and it’s one of the reasons I stayed away from the UFC as long as I did. But, I want to be very clear; any sort of friendship we once had doesn’t exist when that cage door shuts.
"I’ve got a ton to prove on November 2, and unfortunately for Tito he’s the guy I have to make an example of. He’s in my house now and Saturday, November 2 on PPV, it’s going to be a horrible night for Tito Ortiz.”
This will be Bellator's debut in the pay-per-view arena, but with new partners in Viacom and Spike TV, it seemed like only a matter of time before it happened.
On November 2, Bellator will headline a show pitting two former UFC champions looking for a jump start into the next phase of their MMA careers against each other.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.
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