Fresh off a new contract signing, former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will return to the cage in the first round of the Bellator heavyweight tournament.
Jackson will join Fedor Emelianenko, Ryan Bader, “King Mo” Lawal, Roy Nelson, Frank Mir, Matt Mitrione and Chael Sonnen in the single-elimination tournament, which is expected to kick off on Jan. 20 in Inglewood, Calif.
But while his first-round opponent has yet to be announced, “Rampage” is outspoken about one man he does not want to face: Chael Sonnen.
Jackson’s last fight, a decision loss to “King Mo” Lawal in March, featured a whole lot of grappling, and Jackson doesn’t sound too intrigued by the notion of fighting another wrestler.
“I told my manager that I’m not looking forward to fight Chael Sonnen,” Jackson said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “I just fought a leg-humping wrestler. Why would I want to fight another fighter who is strictly known for wrestling?”
It doesn’t sound like anything personal against Sonnen, but Jackson wants an opponent who is going to stand and bang.
“Why would Bellator want to me against another wrestler right off the bat?” Jackson said. “Honestly, I would say that wouldn’t be a matchup I’d be looking forward to, and I would be upset coming into the Bellator contract fresh off the bat and them giving me a wrestler to be honest. Who wants to see me fight another wrestler, why wouldn’t a promoter have a guy like me who loves to stand and bang and have exciting fights, why would a promoter constantly want to keep putting me with wrestlers?”
Likewise, “Rampage” isn’t overly enthused about the notion of fighting Fedor Emelianenko, but but for different reasons.
“Fedor is my favorite fighter of all time,” Jackson said. “Fedor is my favorite fighter, so that would be an awkward matchup if i had to fight him, fighting your favorite fighter of all-time. A tournament is a tournament. I would never sign a deal where I had to fight Fedor unless I was being paid like $10 million. For $10 million, I’ll fight my mama. If it’s a tournament, that’s the only way.”
Either way, Jackson, who confirmed he signed a three-fight deal, is just glad to get back to action. There was much speculation about a return to the UFC, particularly where Rampage once had legal issues with Bellator’s parent company, but it’s water under the bridge at this point.
“I think Scott [Coker] is a great promoter,” Jackson said. “Like I said, I had no problems, no issues with the UFC, I think the UFC has done great things for the sport and everything, and you know, I’m just going to keep it there. I like it over in Bellator. I like the energy. I like it.”
And that’s why, at the end of the day, Jackson is going to put on the gloves and fight, even if his opponent ends up being Sonnen.
“I didn’t even know about the damn tournament to be honest, until I re-signed my agreement,” Jackson said. “Then I see all over the damn media about the damn tournament, and I’m like aww f*ck, here we go with this s*it. But I don’t care. I’m a fighter. I used to like fighting in the [PRIDE] Grand Prix. I don’t care about tournaments and s*it. I’m just saying. I’m not looking forward to fighting Chael Sonnen in the first round of the damn tournament. I’ll fight anybody. My job is to fight. But you know, I want a fight that I’m going to be excited about.”