When Bellator initially announced their plan for their first ever pay per view, the main event of the evening was set to be a battle between two former UFC legends, Rampage Jackson and Tito Ortiz.
At that point, neither man had fought in Bellator and neither had won since 2011. The matchup was berated by fans and pundits throughout the MMA community. It seemed that Bellator’s plan was doomed to fail from the outset, and fail it did.
Ultimately, Tito was forced out of the fight with a severe neck injury. Without a suitable replacement for Rampage on short notice, Bellator scrapped the pay per view and put three title fights live and free on Spike TV. Rampage debuted in Bellator two weeks later by knocking out Joey Beltran.
Rampage recently spoke with MMAFighting regarding the initial matchup with Tito Ortiz:
It just didn’t look like the fans was into that fight on social media and stuff. It looked like, a lot of times you get like one percent of haters, but that fight had more than one percent, that had like 40 percent haters. Seemed like a lot of people didn’t like that fight. You can’t let haters stop you, but at the same time you hear it, you see it, I think the haters still would have tuned in just to see what would happen, but they were out there.
Rampage returned to the Bellator cage in February, knocking out Christian M’Pumbu in the Light Heavyweight tournament semi-final. He will now take on King Mo in the Light Heavyweight tournament final as the co-main event of the Bellator pay per view in May.