Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson: I want to help put Bellator on the map
"This is a good time right now," Jackson said. "We just signed with Bellator, and I want to help put Bellator on the map. Why not do it with a legend with someone like Tito?"
Rather than discussing their pasts with the UFC, and instead of dwelling on Bellator's uphill climb to make a dent in the PPV market, the "SportsCenter" segment focused on the fight itself. Bellator 106 plays host to the bout at Long Beach Arena in California, where light heavyweights Muhammed Lawal (11-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) and Emanuel Newton (21-7-1 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) also fight for an interim belt.
A talking point for today's ESPN interview was Jackson and Ortiz's past friendship.
"I think it's business," Ortiz said. "It's strictly business. … For the first eight years of our competition, we sparred against each other almost everyday. We wrestled against each other. We did jiu-jitsu. We did the things to make each other better.
"Over the last five years after, we bettered ourselves by fighting other fighters. … That's what makes this match so intriguing for the fighters to watch. You want to see two of the best fighters compete against each other? I'm healthier. My mind's set on a great positive right now, he's in a great place, and I think fans want to see a great fight, which they'll see on Nov. 2."
Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz hit SportsCenter: talk Bellator, UFC and Dana White
On leaving UFC for Bellator:
Rampage: Well you know, I've been fighting for a long time and I felt like I've done a lot for this sport and I just wanted to be treated with a little respect. I've had some bad injuries lately and I've been forced to fight. And even though I've been forced to fight and I still show up, a lot of fighters pull out when they get injuries, I still go in and I show up and I fight. If I don't get the outcome that's positive or if I lose, I get ridiculed and stuff like that. You shouldn't treat a professional athlete that way. When you do this sport, somebody's gotta win and somebody's gotta lose. We're the ones who have to sleep with that. It haunts you when you lose, especially to a guy you thought you should have beat easily or something like that.
Tito: You know, I'm just in a transition. It's turn of the times. And it's time for another company to be an up and comer and to have great fighters. They have many young champions there. They're on SPIKE TV every week and now they're having their first Pay Per View, headlined by me and Rampage. We had a great friendship and we acknowledge that, but it is business. Nov. 2, we're going to put on a show for people to buy Pay Per View. I've had some of the biggest PPV buys in UFC history. Rampage has some of the biggest PPV buys in UFC history. So why not even better and have two guys who were friends, who know how to fight each other, who know how to put on a good show, give the fans what they want to see? That's a great fight.
Rampage: If you're cool with him, you're cool with him. If you're not, you're not. I don't even think about Dana. He's the last thing that comes to my mind. There's been a lot of crazy stuff being said since I made the announcement I was moving to Bellator. If I see him I'll just keep walking. Try to stay positive.
Tito: Business is business and he holds grudges. He gets too personal on things. That's his business. They are billionaires because that's a business. The brand of Tito Ortiz, I'm a business. What I do is fight and support my family as every other American in the United States. They support their families by going to work hard. When we get cut out of the pie completely it makes not bad decisions. Billionaires don't make billionaires by getting taken advantage of. I will no longer be taken advantage of. Bellator has my back and they treat us right. They treat us with respect, the way we're supposed to be treated as fighters and the fans need to see that. There's no propaganda in them. They don't badmouth the way Dana and the UFC used it against me. Lorenzo Fretita always treated me really good, but Dana just holds grudges. It is what it is. I washed my hands. I walked away from it. Now it's time to do something new, something bigger and better.
On being friends and fighting each other now:
Rampage: It's a good time right now. We just signed with Bellator and I want to help put them on the map. Why not do it against a legend like Tito? He's a legend.
On putting the friendship aside:
Tito: I think it's strictly business. I've watched a lot of his fights and I critique him as an athlete. I see what are his weaknesses and strengths? How would I play against him if I were to ever compete against him. For the first eight years of our competition we sparred against each other almost every day. We wrestled against each other. We did jiu jitsu. We did the things to make each other better. Five years after that we've bettered ourselves by fighting other fighters. I beat guys he lost to. I lost against guys he knocked out. That's what makes this match so intriguing for the fans to watch. You want to see two of the best fighters compete against each other? I'm healthier, my mind's set on a great positive note right now. He's in a great place. I think the fans want to see a great fight and they'll see it on Nov. 2.
Rampage: I think a lot of people misunderstand. It's MMA, it's fighting. You don't have to hate the guy that you're fighting. It's like playing basketball against your friend or somebody, to us, because we're fighters. When we train with each other, even though we pull punches back a little bit, we still punch each other and hit each other. Me and Tito, we've hit each other for real a couple times. We've went at it before in sparring but it's sparring. There's no referee in there. This time it's going to be in front of millions of people and it's real. To us, it's like basketball players playing one on one. Just going on and doing your job. Put on a great show. You don't have to hate the guy you're fighting, but sometimes it works if you do.