Quinton Jackson says he didn’t receive what his Bellator deal promised. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
According his management, Quinton Jackson was promised the world upon signing with Bellator MMA. What was actually delivered was another thing entirely.
As a result, “Rampage” recently signed d a contract to return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The move was announced during the broadcast of UFC Fight Night “Machida vs. Dollaway” on Dec. 20. Shortly thereafter, Bellator President Scott Coker announced that the light heavyweight was still under contract and that the promotion would work to protect its contractual rights.
Coker was not in charge when Jackson joined the Bellator roster. At the time, promotion founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney was the man at the top. However, Jackson says that he didn’t even deal with Bellator officials when signing a contract. Instead, his team met with Viacom, the organization’s parent company.
“I signed a deal with Viacom, not really Bellator,” Jackson said during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “ Looking at it now, it seems like Viacom just tried to say things that would get me to sign with them so I could fight for Bellator. They never came through on any of the things they said they were going to do for me.”
Exactly what did Viacom promise? Quite a lot, according to Lee Gwynn, Jackson's manager and co-founder of Wolfslair Academy.
“Basically this deal has five sections to it including TV, movies, pro wrestling, MMA fighting and there was a provision for MTV. It was a very interesting new deal that I’ve never done before,” Gwynn said on Beatdown. “In retrospect, Bjorn Rebney had to fill the UFC’s shoes on Spike TV. He had a big job ahead of him, and I think he put more faith in the system than what he believed. The bottom line is we were sold a dream that never manifested.”
During an interview on Fox Sports 1 after the announcement that he was returning to the UFC, Jackson mentioned that he “terminated” his Bellator contract. While that remark drew skepticism from the MMA community, Gwynn essentially affirmed that claim.
“We were fully expecting to figure this out and then Bjorn got canned. Scott Coker walked into a complete car crash. He’s gone to great levels to fix the situation....we made many requests to fix it,” Gwynn said. “The contract had a provision in it that allows the fighter to put the promoter on notice for 45 days to attempt to fix the breach. We actually gave Bellator 70 days in the end. We couldn’t fix the problem.
“Quinton couldn’t get a satisfactory position where he was comfortable considering the amount of false promises and letdowns he had. That was the thing that Scott could never fix. We had the position to terminate and we did.”
Coker, who also appeared on “Beatdown,” was tight-lipped about the subject.
“This has already been handed off to the lawyers and they advised me not to comment on anything Rampage or [his] contract status. I’ll have to leave it in their hands, and we’ll have some kind of announcement shortly,” he said.
For his part, “Rampage” doesn’t blame Coker for the messy situation. However, the new Bellator boss didn’t really do anything to fix the contract, either.
“I gave them time to fix the contract and they didn’t want to budge,” Jackson said. “I didn’t understand that. Scott Coker has nothing to do with it. It was messed up before he even got there. I don’t understand why he didn’t want to fix it, but I’m not a promoter. I don’t know what goes on over there on their end.”
Jackson expects to be ready to fight by March or April. If that seems especially early considering the long legal battle that could be ahead, neither Gwynn nor Jackson appears all that worried. Once things play out, they are confident Jackson will be a UFC employee once again.
“In effect there are three different groups of lawyers that have looked at this thing now,” Gwynn said. “And everybody’s come back with the same response: That the termination is legit for the reasons given.”
Added Jackson: “We wouldn’t have done a deal with the UFC if there was any way it could come back and bite us in the ass.”