The UFC icon and MMA pioneer Tito Ortiz is back, and he’ll be fighting for Bellator MMA.
Bellator made the announcement on Wednesday that Ortiz, a UFC Hall of Famer, will come out of retirement to fight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on PPV on Nov. 2.
The main event is certainly the biggest non-UFC American PPV event in the history of MMA. Even though Strikeforce had Fedor Emelianenko, the company and Showtime never staged a PPV event.
If Bellator is going to compete with UFC, it will need to take chances to grab people’s attention. It doesn’t matter that Jackson and Ortiz are past their primes. Bellator is trying to compete with the biggest brand in the sport and it won’t do it with weekly tournament matches.
Bellator needs to sign the former stars of the business to get people to pay attention to the current product and the next generation of stars. Every MMA fan will want to watch this fight between two of the sport’s biggest stars. Ortiz and Jackson will also bring mainstream media attention and for a few weeks, the MMA media will, for the first time, be talking a lot about an MMA show not involving UFC President Dana White.
The UFC will likely fight back. The best thing the UFC can do is stage a free show on Fox featuring some of its own biggest stars. Or better yet, the UFC should air some repeat programming of the worst of Ortiz and Jackson, showing fights they were KO’d in.
If Bellator wants to play with the big boys, the company better expect to get pushed around by the baddest boys on the playground.