During Bellator 97, it was announced that light heavyweights Tito Ortiz (16-11-1) and Rampage Jackson (32-11) will meet inside the cage for the first time in their careers. The two former champions will collide in the first ever Bellator pay-per-view event which is set for November 2nd in the Long Beach Arena in California.
“To have two of the biggest names in MMA headline our first PPV is awesome,” Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney said. “Rampage vs. Tito is a fight I’ve wanted to see for years and to have it as our Main Event on our first Pay-Per-View is a spectacular next step in Bellator’s evolution. They’re both re-energized, excited and ready for a war. This will be a great fight.”
At UFC 148, Tito Ortiz announced his retirement from MMA and was also inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame prior to his rubber match with Forrest Griffin. Wednesday night during the Bellator broadcast on Spike TV, “The People’s Champ” announced that he was returning to MMA. For the first time since UFC 18, Ortiz will fight with another promotion.
Ortiz retired from the UFC having lost three fights in a row. The lone spotlight in a nine fight stretch, where Tito went 1-7-1, was a submission win over Ryan Bader at UFC 132. During his short lived retirement, Ortiz started up a management company called Primetime 360 Entertainment & Sports Management Inc. He currently represents Invicta FC Women’s Featherweight Champion Cris Cyborg. Now, he’ll come out of retirement to face new challenges in the Bellator cage.
“I’m back,” Ortiz stated. “Over the last few years, my passion for MMA was completely killed, dealing with UFC politics and with Dana. I didn’t have that drive to compete, my heart wasn’t in it. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m free. Bjorn and Bellator put together an opportunity that made me part of the promotion, part of the family. I feel like I can breathe again and my old friend is going to be on the receiving end of all that happiness turned into an old school Tito Ortiz ground and pound beating. I’ve fought and beaten the very best in MMA history and on Nov. 2nd, Rampage will be the next huge win on my record. This is a new era for the People’s Champion.”
Rampage Jackson departed the UFC on a 3-fight losing streak. The downhill slide started for Rampage after he faced Jon Jones for the title at UFC 135 and lost by way of submission. Though he signed with Bellator MMA in June this year, he has yet to engage in an MMA battle with the promotion. Now that he’s back, Rampage said that he’s more ready than ever for a bout.
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been re-born.,” Jackson said. “My excitement, energy and aggression, it’s all back and bigger than ever. I feel like a kid again. The Rampage you’ll see Nov. 2nd will be better than any Rampage you’ve ever seen. Everybody knows Tito and I have a very long history. He’s a former teammate and friend, and it’s one of the reasons I stayed away from the UFC as long as I did. But, I want to be very clear; any sort of friendship we once had doesn’t exist when that cage door shuts. I’ve got a ton to prove on November 2nd, and unfortunately for Tito he’s the guy I have to make an example of. He’s in my house now and Saturday, November 2nd on PPV, it’s going to be a horrible night for Tito Ortiz.”
Tickets go on sale at 10 AM PST this Saturday, August 3rd. Tickets can be purchased on Bellator.com, Ticketmaster.com, as well as at the Long Beach Arena Box Office.
More information regarding Bellator’s first PPV will be made available in the coming weeks. A press conference with Rampage and Ortiz will take place on Monday, August 5th.