Bellator banking on Ortiz-Rampage clash


NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — The fan in Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has always wanted to see mixed martial arts pioneers Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson fight each other.

Now the businessman in him hopes enough paying customers are similarly interested in the matchup of ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champions to make Bellator’s first pay-per-view event a success.

Jackson and Ortiz, longtime friends who each lost their last three fights in the UFC, will headline Bellator’s first PPV card on Nov. 2 in Long Beach, Calif.

“I’ve said it many times before, I’m an MMA fan first. Today I get to be a fan,” Rebney said in formally announcing the event at the organization’s headquarters. “I get to make a fight I have always wanted to see. This isn’t going to happen often. It’s not a huge new trend at Bellator, but it is awesome to be able to make this fight between these two icons.”

He added, “If there was a Mount Rushmore of mixed martial arts, these would be two of the heads carved in stone.”

Rebney hopes some viewers tuning in to see Ortiz and Jackson also will discover some of the younger talent on Bellator’s roster. The event likely will be priced between $34.99 and $44.99 depending on the distributor. Rebney said Bellator will remain mostly a cable television-based business and only foresees PPV events when circumstances dictate.

This is one of those cases in his view.

Ortiz, 38, came out of semi-retirement to sign with Bellator after his UFC contract officially expired last month. Jackson, 35, signed as a free agent with Bellator this year. He expressed frustration at some of the early reports and fan comments about the fight as news leaked in the last few days.

“I’ve been reading a lot of stuff and me and Tito have been taking a lot of hits from some MMA fans. It’s not right for a bunch of never-will-be’s and never-gonna-be’s to call Tito and I has-beens,” he said. “You guys should smack yourselves for saying things like that.”

Both fighters used the forum to level direct and indirect shots at their former employer, and expressed pleasure at Bellator being a positive work environment. Even Rebney got in the act with a few jabs at the expense of the UFC, including an obvious shot at Chael Sonnen.

Ortiz was perturbed at a question of whether he was taking this fight because of reported money troubles.

“I was smart enough to save my money. I own a lot of land and I’m smart with my money,” Ortiz said. “This is about making history.”

■ JUNG DISCUSSES INJURY — “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung fell short in his bid to upset featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 163 in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday when he suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth round and couldn’t withstand the champ’s onslaught.

Jung was trailing, but was starting to find a rhythm as Aldo appeared to tire.

“Unfortunately, when I separated my shoulder, I tried to put it back in myself and it didn’t work. Jose noticed my shoulder was out and he kicked me three times really hard. So unfortunately, the shoulder was not able to be put back in,” Jung said through a translator, adding that he would like a rematch.

“It was really painful when it happened, but when they took me back to the medical room, they popped it back into place, and it now feels OK.”

Aldo also suffered an injury during the bout as he broke his foot early in the first round. Aldo’s trainer Andre Pederneiras told MMAFighting.com about the injury and estimated the fighter would need two to three months to recover.

■ WSOF RETURNS — Las Vegas-based World Series of Fighting will host its fourth event Saturday in Ontario, Calif.

Kickboxing star Tyrone Spong headlines the show in his second pro MMA fight against Angel DeAnda. Las Vegan Ray Sefo makes what he expects to be his final appearance as a fighter as he takes on Dave Huckaba.

Also, Nick Newell, an unbeaten fighter with no left hand or forearm, makes his WSOF debut against Keon Caldwell.

The event airs live on NBC Sports Network (Cable 38) at 7:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

 

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