Who Could be Next for Rampage?

On Friday night Quinton “Rampage” Jackson continued his odyssey in the sport of MMA. Along with it being his return to the cage after more than a year away, it marked his return to Bellator MMA after a bout of unhappiness with how the company was satisfying his contract. While not a fight of the year (or night) candidate, Jackson earned a closely fought split decision win over Satoshi Ishii, in the main event of the company’s newest edition in their Dynamite series of events. With Jackson notching his fifth win in a row; his longest winning streak since 2007 — the obvious question is, who could be next for “Rampage?”

With Jackson notching his fifth win in a row, the obvious question is, who could be next for Rampage?

Tito Ortiz

This one is as close to no-brainer matchmaking as it gets. Ortiz and Jackson are two of the biggest names ever in the division and the sport. They have been long time friends and were scheduled to face-off in the company’s first ever pay-per-view in November of 2013. However, after suffering an injury, the bout never happened. Though, after his win over Ishii, Jackson made it clear he was still open to knocking out his “friend.” So the match-up finally happening is a very real possibility.

It is a pairing that fits Bellator’s fight making style to a tee. Two aging stars with legitimate name value that can fill a main event slot and bring attention to the promotion. While both are well past their prime, it is a fight fans have wanted to see for years. Making it sure to put butts in seats and eyes balls on television screens if the fight occurred.

Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal

This would be a rematch to the 2014 scrap that many felt had a controversial result. Opinions were abound from fans and pundits after the fight, claiming “King Mo” did enough to score the victory. Yet Jackson got the nod on all three judges cards–29-28. These two men have had a rivalry dating back several years and both have the gift of gab to easily sell the fight to fans. It could also be viewed as a title eliminator for whoever is left holding the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship, after Liam McGeary and Phil Davis finally meet-up later in the year.

Emanuel Newton

This was the match-up that was supposed to happen after Jackson bested Lawal in the final of the company’s light heavyweight tournament. Yet it wasn’t long after that win that Jackson “terminated” his contract with the promotion and went to the UFC. The former 205 pound champion would be a fighter more to Jackson’s liking. Being someone that would prefer to stand and trade rather than grapple. Though, Newton’s unorthodox style makes him far from brawler.

While he is 1-3 in his last four, “The Hardcore Kid” is a viable name to pair-up with Jackson to garner a legitimate headlining spot.

Dan Henderson

This fight would be a another easy sell for Bellator. It fits the criteria of matching-up two legends of the sport. It is also a rematch to a stellar light heavyweight title fight the two had in 2007 (a unanimous decision win for Jackson). The biggest problem with this fight happening is that Henderson is not a Bellator contracted fighter. Technically he is not contracted to fight for anyone. After his knockout win of Hector Lombard at UFC 199, the master of the H-bomb is a free agent and able to sign anywhere. There is a grass roots movement to get Henderson into a title fight, and rematch, with current 185 pound champion Michael Bisping. That is unlikely to happen.

There is a grass roots movement to get Henderson into a title fight, and rematch, with current 185 pound champion Michael Bisping. That is unlikely to happen.

For a fighter who is 3-6 in his last nine, the UFC is also unlikely to shell out big bucks. He will also be 46-years-old in a couple of months. Which is why his value truly lies with Bellator and his former boss at Strikeforce, Scott Coker. The two men came to an agreement the last time “Hendo” was a free agent back in 2009. Coker saw value in Henderson then. For a company who has promoted other greats of the sport over the age of 45, there is probably a belief there is still value.

And who wouldn’t want to see “Rampage” versus “Hendo” II?

Sergei Kharitonov

This fight would jive with Jackson’s recent statements about wanting to fight more at heavyweight, since he has grown “tired of cutting weight.” Sergei Kharitonov is another notable recent free agent signing by Bellator, along with Benson Henderson and Matt Mitrione. The Pride FC and Strikeforce veteran is also on a five fight winning streak. He meets Jackson’s preferences to fight at heavyweight, while also being a fighter always ready and willing to stand in the center of the cage (or ring) and trade hands.

Either way, there are a lot of interesting fight possibilities for the Jackson and Bellator going forward.