June 4, 2013
TNA signs MMA fighter Rampage Jackson
By MATT BISHOP - SLAM! Wrestling
TNA Wrestling, Bellator MMA and Spike TV jointly announced the signing of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to a multi-year agreement Tuesday, with the mixed martial arts star signing up to become a part of the Viacom family.
"Rampage is one of the best known MMA fighters competing today," TNA president Dixie Carter said in a press release. "He is a true cross-over star and his talent, big personality and popularity among a wide range of fans make him an extraordinary fit for our company."
Jackson joins Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, who signed a similar deal last year to fight both in MMA and wrestle for TNA. Lawal has just recently started competing in matches at Ohio Valley Wrestling after competing in two Bellator fights earlier this year. He returns to the Bellator cage June 19.
“Rampage is a true superstar both inside and outside the MMA cage” Bellator CEO & Chairman Bjorn Rebney said. “The partnership that we’ve created with Quinton is unlike anything that’s ever been done in the sports & entertainment arena and Rampage is the perfect athlete/entertainer to carry it off.”
The 34-year old Jackson is on a three-fight losing streak, which earned him his release from the UFC, but he has always been known for his antics outside the cage. Spike will play off that aspect by creating a special reality series featuring Jackson that will lead into his debut with Bellator, as well as other entertainment initiatives.
“We are thrilled to create this opportunity for one of the greatest athletes and personalities in MMA,” Spike TV president Kevin Kay said. “Rampage is a proven ratings driver who brings incredible star power to both Bellator and TNA.”
Jackson (32-11 MMA) gained a following after his two fights with Wanderlei Silva (both losses) in Pride Fighting Championships. One of his career highlights came in 2004 when he power bombed opponent Ricardo Arona, knocking him out in the process.
He made his highly-anticipated UFC debut in 2007, knocking out Marvin Eastman, which earned him a title shot against long-time champion Chuck Liddell. Jackson shocked the world by knocking Liddell out in two minutes. He went on to defend the title on Spike TV against Dan Henderson in one of the most back-and-forth fights in UFC history. It also drew 6 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched fights in MMA history. Jackson also found success on Spike as a coach on "The Ultimate Fighter 10," which was the highest-rated season in the show's history, which is about to kick off its 18th season soon on Fox Sports 1.
TNA, Bellator and Spike TV will hold a press conference Wednesday to officially announce the signing.