The Quinton "Rampage" Jackson anti-UFC and pro-Bellator PR campaign rolled along on Monday, but with a couple of interesting new twists. Among them, Jackson said he intends to make his Bellator debut before year's end.
"I don’t know the exact date. I’m just getting ready right now," Jackson said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast. "I know I’ll fight before ’13 is up."
Though the former UFC light heavyweight champion and recent Bellator signee did not seem overly enthusiastic about either prospect, he said he was not unwilling to fight rival-turned-friend and pro wrestling compatriot Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal or participate in Bellator's signature event: a grueling season tournament.
"If it comes down to it and me and King Mo gotta fight, I’m sure he’ll try to knock me out just as much as I’ll try to knock him out, no matter how cool we got," Jackson said. "...If we give Bellator more ratings for a tournament, I’ll do a tournament."
It's all part of Jackson's ongoing public makeout session with his new employer, which he has lauded as a more fighter-friendly organization than the UFC since signing with the Viacom-owned promotion last week. He has also missed nary a chance to downgrade what he views as hostile business practices on the part of the UFC.
"I always say the UFC is a good company...They just watch out for their own brand and not for the fighters," Jackson said. "They cut fighters left and right…If you cut a fighter, what is he going to do, you know what I’m saying? Where is he going to go?"
On Monday, though, Jackson seemed to take a slightly friendlier angle against his old employer. He acknowledged again that he was "wrong" to film The A-Team movie, a decision which derailed a grudge match with Rashad Evans in Jackson's hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. The fight eventually happened six months later in Las Vegas.
Jackson also praised some of the UFC's business practices and said he fought injured at UFC 144 (where he lost to Ryan Bader) in an attempt to return to the company's good graces.
"Honestly, I was wrong for doing The A-Team movie, because I was scheduled to fight Rashad in Memphis. I know I messed up by doing that," Jackson said. "That’s why I did the fight in Japan. I didn’t want to pull out...But that made it worst. Behind my back, [UFC President Dana White] talked [smack] on me for not making weight…that’s when I knew there was no saving that relationship."
Jackson (32-11) gained prominence among hardcore fans during his days in Japan's Pride promotion but found true fame after returning to the States and beating Chuck Liddell for the UFC light heavyweight title. Jackson, 34, is currently on a three-fight losing streak and departed the UFC for another promotion after his contract expired following his January loss to Glover Teixeira.