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Content with first year in Bellator, Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson heads home

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LOS ANGELES -- Quinton Jackson gets that trademark mischievous grin on his face as he recalls one of the few instances he's fought professionally in his hometown of Memphis.

Maybe the passage of time has caused the particular details to get a bit blurry, but the fight card, which Rampage says isn't on his official record, sounded like a hell of a scene.

"I fought some guy who looked like Steven Seagal, some aikido guy or something," said Jackson. "The fight's not even on my record, I don't remember his name. My dad was there at the fight and he said he blinked and he missed the fight, so I think I finished him fast or something. I forgot all about that fight."

Jackson, who's sitting in his green room during a break from shooting Bellator promos in a Hollywood studio, pauses before adding a distinct Rampage kicker to the story.

"That was the day I hooked up with my ex-girlfriend's mom, too," he said. "That part I didn't forget."

Some things you have to just chalk up to Rampage being Rampage. Who can blame him for being in a good mood? When the mercurial former UFC light heavyweight champion signed with Bellator last spring, the bar was set pretty low on when he'd become upset with his new employer.

But just shy of his first anniversary with the company, Jackson will return home to meet "King" Mo Lawal in the finals of the Bellator season 10 light heavyweight tournament on the May 17 pay-per-view event in suburban Memphis.

And while Rampage is in the co-main event, underneath the Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler lightweight title trilogy fight, Jackson is simply happy to be heading home.

"I love the way those guys treat me over there," Jackson said. "I'm happy to be here, my body is like 90 percent now and I'm back in training again so I'm pretty happy."

Not that there weren't bumps along the way. While Rampage has long claimed not to listen to his detractors, he was certainly aware that there was quite a bit of backlash to what was supposed to be a pay-per-view main event against Tito Ortiz on Nov. 2.

"It just didn't look like the fans was into that fight on social media and stuff," Jackson said. "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."

Jackson took his training for the Ortiz fight seriously, as he got set to get down to business. Ortiz, though, pulled up with a neck injury, causing the fight to be canceled; the card to be moved to Spike TV; and the second Chandler-Alvarez bout to be moved to the main-event spot.

"People don't understand," Jackson said. "There's a lot of haters, they say rude things, ‘washed up' and ‘has beens' and stuff like that. You can't let those people get you down. But I know that Tito dodged a bullet, ‘cuz he was getting knocked out, because I knew what was going on with me."

Since then, if nothing else, Jackson has demonstrated he's got his knockout power, an attribute to which both Joey Beltran and Christian M'Pumbu, victims of first-round finishes, can attest.

Oh, and Rampage can still draw a crowd. Jackson's of M'Pumbu on Feb. 28 was watched by 1.1 million people, and the gate and attendance at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun Arena, though not publicly released, is by all reliable accounts among the biggest in company history.

"If the fans want to enjoy watching me fight, enjoy me with my love for fighting, it's fine," Jackson said. "But if they don't, it don't cross my mind. If the fans still love me, I can put on good shows for them."

Of course, then there was the matter of the post-fight histrionics between Jackson and Lawal at Mohegan Sun. Their confrontation had, shall we say, a bit of a pro rasslin' vibe.

"After I knocked out Christian Oomdooboo [sic], I was still hyped up, because he said he was going to end my career," Jackson said. "Listen, people don't understand I don't hate Mo. I don't know whether Mo hates me or stuff like that. We had beef back in the day and our argument, our scuffle had nothing to do with our beef."

It's worth noting that even with no fans around and no cameras following one another around, Jackson and Lawal barely acknowledged one another's presence at the studio. Alvarez and Chandler, by contrast, greeted each other like friends. Still, though, Rampage wasn't about to spill the beans on whether their showdown in their Connecticut cage showdown was prearranged.

"I'll just say, it was my time to shine, I was excited after the fight, and I had no idea he was going to be in the cage," Jackson said. "If you go back and watch it, I was looking even before Mo was there that I'm the man of Bellator. He said he what he had to say, I said what he had to say, but I'm still hyped up. I'm in the cage, I have my gloves on, I'm a fighter. I kind of went at him. Anyone who I was going to fight, if he came to the cage, I would have done the same thing."

With that, Jackson's thoughts turned back to Memphis.

"It's gonna be good to be home," Jackson said. "I wanna bring them this fight, this will be more of the type of fight Memphis fans like to see."

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