Bellator MMA almost lost a headliner the day before its inaugural pay-per-view event when Quinton Jackson shoved Muhammed Lawal at the weigh-ins for Bellator 120.
Following the weigh-in dustup, Jackson briefly was removed from the card and later reinstated after apologizing to the head of the overseeing athletic commission.
“His behavior was the worst I’ve ever seen in professional sports,” Mississippi Athletic Commission chairman Jon Lewis today told MMAjunkie.
Jackson raged after being confronted about the shove, which took place this past Friday, and was eventually fined $10,000, which was subtracted from his fight purse. MMAFighting.com first reported the incident.
“Hitting him for [$10,000] is light, I will say,” Lewis added.
Bellator took place at Landers Center in Southaven, Miss. The event’s main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on Spike TV and Spike.com.
Lewis was under the impression Jackson had been fined for a separate shoving incident in a previous Bellator fight against ex-champ Christian M’Pumbu, which took place at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn., in February.
“I believe that he had another offense like that that was a several thousand dollar fine recently,” Lewis said.
A Bellator official referred the matter to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission Athletic Unit, which oversaw this past February’s Bellator 110 event, but a commission rep could not immediately be reached.
Jackson’s reps weren’t immediately available for comment.
Lewis said he went backstage after the Bellator 120 weigh-ins and took Jackson to task about the shove, which he called “an assault action” per commission rules that forbid physical contact between fighters at weigh-ins.
“His reaction to me was, ‘f–k you, motherf–ker, fine me,’” Lewis said. “I said, ‘You’re getting it.’ And it kept elevating back and forth … and it went to the point where I thought, geez, he’s going to take a swing at me.”
Later, Lewis spoke to Bellator officials, noting a removal was “what should be taking place.”
“He’d be pulled out of any other professional sport,” Lewis said. “I’m the head commissioner. I didn’t want this to happen to me. You can take a football player out of a game and you don’t hurt the team that much, per se. There’s a replacement.”
At the same time, the commissioner noted he didn’t want to remove Jackson from the card because he didn’t want the promotion to lose its headliner over a personal incident.
“This whole thing was set up around this fight, and I’m not going to punish Bellator for that,” he said.
After three rounds with Lawal (12-4 MMA, 4-3 BMMA), former UFC champ Jackson (34-11 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) was declared the winner by unanimous decision. With the victory, he topped Bellator’s Season 10 light heavyweight tournament, though at the event’s post-fight presser, he sparred verbally with Lawal and welcomed a rematch.
Lewis said he had no further issues with Jackson after the incident following the weigh-ins.
“Quinton is going to have to learn to cool it,” he said. “Will he ever do it? I don’t know.”
Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said today he would decide whether or not to push for Jackson’s earned fight with champ Emanuel Newton, whom he expressed misgivings about fighting next.