Bellator 110: Is It Time to Admit That Rampage Jackson Is Done?

Matthew Ryder@@matthewjryderFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2014

Quinton Jackson stands on the ring before fighting wit Glover Teixeira during UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on FOX 6 at the United Center in Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013. Teixeira won the bout. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Friday night the world will watch with bated breath as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson returns to the cage against a top contender in the world's biggest promotion.

Or not.

In actuality, a few hundred thousand people will watch indifferently as former UFC and Pride star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson returns to the cage against an irrelevant (if underappreciated) light heavyweight in North America's second-biggest promotion.

Doesn't quite have the same caché, does it?

The fact is that, since his acrimonious split with the UFC, Rampage picked a fight no one asked for with Tito Ortiz and then pounded durable also-ran Joey Beltran into the ground when the Ortiz bout fell through.

He's also spent time in pro wrestling, hammering out some mediocre ratings in promoting a match in the other steel cage.

The long and short of it? Rampage Jackson is dangerously close to being totally irrelevant. In fact, his only relevance in the modern era is out of respect for what he did as a younger, more focused, more talented man.

Very few people are going out of their way to devote a Friday night to seeing him throw hands for Bellator in the MMA hotbed of Uncasville. In some ways that's a shame, given the number of highlights he's given the sport. In others, it's exactly what he's earned with his outbursts and performances in recent years.

He can blame the UFC for whatever he wants, but the reality is that he was a star there, and he made some cash there before he began to look lethargic and disinterested in fighting the best competition. The promotion has done plenty wrong in its time, but mistreating Rampage isn't real high on that list.

It's had far more to do with distractions and a lack of a commitment to the sport. He was never the same after he left the UFC to film The A-Team in 2009, losing to Rashad Evans and narrowly besting Lyoto Machida before a three-fight skid to end his UFC run.

Even his win over Matt Hamill, which somehow earned him a title shot after the Machida win, looked like an uninspired sparring session instead of a showcase for a former champion starving to get his title back.

Unfortunately, with an eye on expanding the influence of his brand through movies, reality shows, wrestling and the occasional fight, Rampage has spread himself too thin and actually made himself less relevant than ever.

While it's perhaps an interesting parallel to the promotion he just left, that's a story for another day. The fact is that as an influential part of the MMA landscape, Jackson is done.

That's not to say he won't go out and win a few more fights. He might even secure a W at Bellator 110, though that's not near the guarantee his supporters would have you believe. He could fight for five more years and go 10-0 in that time against less talented or less threatening foes.

However he's on his way out of the sport, fixing to be a footnote in the pantheon of great mixed martial artists. Sadly though, it's happening for an entirely different reason than he thinks it is.