Four minutes and 59 seconds was all it took for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to announce to the world that he was back. The injury-riddled fighter made his triumphant return to the Octagon this past weekend and knocked out last-minute challenger Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran before barely breaking a sweat at Bellator 108 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Jackson (33-11, 1-0 Bellator) jarred Beltran with a devastating left hook in the closing seconds of the opening round, then pounced with his right hand before the ref stopped the fight. It marked Jackson’s first stoppage win since UFC 92 in 2008, and his first overall win since 2011.
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“Give me this mic! I’m so excited. Give me this mic!,” Jackson shouted postfight. “[Bellator CEO] Bjorn Rebney saved my knees. I proved I still got it. Everybody in my weight class better be shaking in their boots. Y’all have no idea, I’m back.”
Beltran expressed disappointment that referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the bout too soon. He asked Jackson for a rematch during the post-fight press conference.
“It sucks. It is what it is what it is what it is,” Beltran said. “I would love Rampage to fight again, I would really love to fight you again, with you know who not as the referee. I’m a little upset, but it’s all good.”
Bellator 108 had been shrouded in controversy after Jackson’s original opponent, Tito Ortiz, bailed out with a neck injury. Instead of a pay-per-view fight, it was switched to a free Spike TV card, leaving Beltran just a few weeks to train. Jackson expressed no desire in rescheduling with Ortiz.
“I’m over it,” he said. “There’s a couple reasons why, but I’m not interested in fighting Tito anymore. No interest.”
Jackson, who was fighting for the first time since undergoing knee surgery, appeared to have the weight of the world lifted from his broad shoulders. He injured his left knee while training to face Rashad Evans in 2010, then tore his meniscus while fighting Ryan Bader in 2012. Jackson felt his right knee pop when he absorbed a vicious oblique kick from Jon Jones.
“The last couple years it’s been looking like I was sucking, but I was fighting hurt,” Jackson said. “I got a lot of years left.”
Jackson will take a few weeks off before hitting the gym again. He wants to get back in the Octagon soon, but his ultimate goal is to become a professional wrestler. Until that happens, he’ll wait for Rebney, the man who fixed his knees, to call.
“That’s where I get to be a big kid. I always wanted to be a pro wrestler, even before I knew what MMA was,” Jackson said. “I have a bunch of projects. I’m trying to get into the video game world. I’m going to keep training and I want to bring my ground game back up to where it used to be.”