Note to Bjorn Rebney: Cut out the middle men.
The announcement of Bellator 110’s light heavyweight tournament featuring Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal both in action was met with pure excitement to the casual and hardcore MMA fan. So the fact that they’re scheduled against two different opponents, leaves a scalp scratch or two in order.
Jackson, who faces Christian M’Pumba, decimated former UFC heavyweight fighter Joey Beltran on his way to a first round TKO victory back in November with just one second remaining before the horn sounded. Lawal on the other hand will be facing Mikhail Zayats, when he returns to the Bellator cage after dropping an interim light heavyweight title rematch with Emmanuel Newton two weeks prior. The first bout was ended via first round KO spinning back fist, a message sent from Newton’s fist to Lawal’s face earlier in the year.
The gambling chips are on the table in 2014 in the form of a four-man tourney that could finally land Jackson and Lawal opposite one another in the cage. Many fans have been clamoring over the potential bout because both fighters seemingly mirror one another.
Both are highly skilled, prominent African-American fighters who can, well, fight. Each hold their own on the microphone. A potential clash between Rampage and King Mo, if built up properly, is sure to hit pure box office gold. For all intents and purposes, Bellator President Bjorn Rebney could have easily made this the co-main event or third main bout feature for the ‘to be announced’ pay-per view headlined by the third lightweight title tilt and rubber match between champion Eddie Alvarez and former belt holder Michael Chandler.
Fortunately for fans, this bout (if it happens) will take place in a matter of months on Spike. It’s a possibility, no question but Cinderella wasn’t given until 12:01 to return home to the fairy godmother with glass slippers in hand. She had until midnight. One second over and it’s anyone’s guess what would’ve happened.
My point is, making the Jackson/Lawal bout straight up without a four-man round robin would have been the most logical way to guarantee and ensure the bout takes place in 2014, if at all. One guy might make quick work of his opponent, while the other sustains a serious injury that sidelines him for a lengthy amount of time.
If there’s anything to learn in the sport of mixed martial arts, it’s the simple fact that nothing is guaranteed. The name of the game is not to strike while the iron is hot, but rather try your best not to spill water all over the shirt and get it wet. The iron? Rampage. The shirt? Perhaps it could be King Mo but it depends on who you ask. Most would agree that it’s the bout itself, a major plan that could become seriously damp if either man loses in two weeks.
I understand what Bellator was thinking when they pieced this matchup together. Delving into the company’s brain from an outsider’s perspective, they figured to give Jackson and Lawal seemingly easy opponents in route to setting up a much bigger tournament final showdown. From a business aspect, it makes perfect sense but from a realistic and human standpoint, the window for plans to backfire has always lit a much bigger flame.
It’s mere storage food for hypothetical thought that the Viacom-owned company should take into consideration, if they ever get hungry.