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Will Quinton Rampage Jackson's new relationship with Bellator sizzle or fizzle?

Esther Lin

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- The way Quinton "Rampage" Jackson sees it, relationships with promoters are similar to those between boyfriends and girlfriends.

And right now, he and Bellator are in the puppy-love phase.

"Me and Bellator, we tongue kissing right now, baby," Jackson said.

And why shouldn't he feel that way? Rampage and his new "date" are just getting started and anything seems possible.

The former UFC and PRIDE unified light heavyweight champion held a press conference at Viacom's West Coast headquarters on Wednesday. Crammed into a small conference room with several reporters were Jackson, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney, and Spike TV president Kevin Kay. TNA Wrestling president Dixie Carter joined in via telephone.

On this day, it felt like anything could happen in Jackson's new world, one which will include fighting in Bellator, wrestling in TNA, a reality series leading up to his debut, and who knows what other outside opportunities will spring up under the Viacom corporate umbrella.

Bellator fights at heavyweight? "I'm thinking of heavyweight because I'm getting older now. I want to start smashing some big guys."

Bellator fights at light heavyweight? "If there's a good fight coming up at 205 pounds, and I've got enough time to get in shape to do it, I'll take it. If Bjorn wants me to take a fight, I'll take it. I've never been one to back away from a fight."

Brand-new pro wrestling moves? "I've got this move I've got in my head, I call it 'The Helicopter,'" Jackson said in an interview after the press conference. "I can't go too much in specifics because I don't know if I have the strength yet, but if I can pull it off, people will remember it."

Crossing paths with "King Mo" Lawal? "Mo's an MMA fighter and a wrestler, I'm an MMA fighter and a wrestler. So me and Mo, we're talking about teaming up and being tag team partners in TNA. Me and Mo, we didn't see eye-to-eye in the past. I thought I was going to have to put a whuppin' up on Mo, I ain't going to lie. I thought I was going to have to whup up on Mo. But Mo's actually a cool guy."

Quinton Jackson as the next Quentin Tarantino? "The MMA movie that I wrote, I think it's pretty dope. It's the MMA movie that should have been made a long time ago. It's from the fighter's point of mind."

Nothing seems too outrageous to ponder as the "Rampage"-Viacom relationship kicks off. But what was notable Wednesday was a complete lack of specifics. Rebney wouldn't commit to the idea of putting the soon-to-be 35-year-old veteran of 43 fights in one of the company's tournaments, which has long been considered the Bellator standard.

"In terms of when the fights are going to occur, who the competition is going to be, the most uplifting part through all the correspondence he and I have had is that he's re-engerized," said Rebney. "It's going to be a partnership, we're going to figure out when it's the right time, it's not going to be about a call that says you've got to fight in 30 days against X."

The details might not seem pressing at the moment, especially given Jackson is still rehabbing surgically repaired knees. But those details will eventually determine whether the Jackson-Viacom relationship remains a romance, or ends up like his previous relationships with PRIDE and the UFC, both of which ended on sour notes.

We'll let "Rampage" continue the analogy from here.

"It's like when you're in a relationship, and you have a new girlfriend, and you're happy all the time. You're all making out all the time. Then after awhile, you ain't tongue kissing no more. You know what I'm saying? In the UFC, ever since 'The A-Team' movie, it was like I cheated on them. And over here, I don't see why it would be like that in Bellator, because with Viacom, it's all set up, it's all in house."

Lest we forget about Jackson's previous "romance," he frequently veered off-topic Wednesday to discuss his ill feelings toward the UFC, feeling the company showed a lack of appreciation as he fought his last three bouts on a bum knee, losing to Jon Jones, Ryan Bader, and Glover Teixeira.

"I shouldn't even have been fighting, because of my knee," Jackson said. "But I wanted to get out of that contract so bad. I still went out there and I fought and I got away and I thought, there's got to be something better. At the end, I met Bjorn and instantly I liked the guy. You can tell, you look him instantly in the eye and you can tell he gets it. ... In Bellator, they don't attack you for your sponsors. They get you sponsors. They don't get mad at you for doing movies. They get you movies."

The anti-UFC feeling spilled over to his greatest career accomplishment, when he defeated Dan Henderson at UFC 75 to unify the UFC and PRIDE 205-pound titles.

"I never got my credit for that," Jackson told in a one-on-one interview after the press conference. "They didn't even give me the PRIDE belt in the cage. I was the last PRIDE champion. They gave it to me later, but they didn't give it to me when I won it. Then they tried to credit Anderson [Silva] for being the first to unify the titles [Silva defeated Henderson at 185 pounds at UFC 82], but I was the first. Even for that, they didn't give me my credit."

The emphasis on the UFC-PRIDE unification win is telling, because it became clear over the course of press conference that winning a championship is no longer his biggest motivation.

"One thing you misunderstand is, I come here to entertain people," Jackson said. "My job is to entertain the fans. ... I come from the PRIDE generation, where it's entertainment first. So I know that realistically I probably won't win all my fights in Bellator, but I'm coming here to entertain people."

In the end, maybe that's all that matters at this point in the career of "Rampage." Who know how this will turn out? Maybe he truly is rejuvenated, and will be able to raise brand awareness for both his real sports company and the pretend one. Maybe he'll stun Hollywood with his brilliant screenplay. Or maybe this will all be a disaster.

However it ends, people will watch. People will talk. And "Rampage" will still be "Rampage." In this busy week filled with a ton of breaking MMA news, "Rampage" broke through the clutter and put Bellator's name front and center. Jackson proved his presence still moves the needle, details be damned.

For now, though, "Rampage" will just bask in the glow of his new relationship.

"I'm very excited to be a part of this family," Jackson said. "You have no idea. This is something I've been dreaming about and waiting for for years. I've been fighting for 12 years and finally, I have a promoter that ‘gets it.'"

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