Bellator MMA surprised MMA fans earlier tonight at Bellator 97 when they announced their first pay-per-view fight card for November 2. While Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was expected to adorn the promotion’s first PPV, Tito Ortiz was somewhat of a surprise to be his opponent. The PPV is now set for November 2 at the Long Beach Arena in Southern California.
Rampage was particuarly thrilled with the pairing, stating via press release:
“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.”
Ortiz insisted this was a shot for a fresh start for the former UFC champion, promising that he was back and better than ever. Said Ortiz:
“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.”
The bout will mark only the second time that Tito Ortiz has fought outside the UFC, with the last bout taking place nearly 15-years ago. The bout will mark Rampage’s first bout under the Bellator MMA banner since signing earlier this year.
The promotion has scheduled a press event for August 5 in Newport Beach, California. More fights are expected to be announced shortly, with some of Bellator MMA’s best fighters – like lightweight champion Michael Chandler – likely to be joining the PPV billing as well.