Bellator president Scott Coker sees Quinton Jackson at a crossroads in his legendary career.
“Rampage” completed his Bellator contract in December in an ugly first-round knockout loss to Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 237, for which the former UFC light heavyweight champion weighed in at a career-high 265 pounds.
Jackson received a lot of backlash after the contest, and he took ownership of his performance. Jackson (38-14 MMA, 5-3 BMMA) expressed deep embarrassment over his effort, and vowed not to return to MMA until he got his physical shape in order. But if he does come back, there’s no guarantee it will be with Bellator.
Coker said he’s in discussion with Jackson’s team, but alluded to needing some assurances before bringing one of the sport’s all-time greats back.
“‘Rampage,’ I think he’s got to figure out what weight class he wants to fight at,” Coker told MMAA Junkie. “That’s really what it comes down to. We fulfilled our obligation with him and we’re still talking to his manager. We have a good relationship with him and Tiki (Ghosn), and it’s just going to be like: Does he really want to do this? Does he really want to go out there and throw down? Because there’s times in a fighters career where it’s like, ‘That’s it.’ They’ve done everything they can in the sport.
“‘Rampage’ is a legend. He’s already done it all. He doesn’t have anything to prove to anybody, including myself. I think that’s something we’ll have a conversation with him but Tiki is saying he wants to go back down to 205. If he’s really serious about taking another stab at it. We’ll definitely have that conversation.”
At 41, Jackson has lost three of his past four fights, albeit to notable names in Emelianenko, Chael Sonnen and Muhammed Lawal. The most recent fight is what seemed to strike a chord for many of his longtime followers, though, because he was finished quicker than any fight in his career.
Coker isn’t prepared to condemn Jackson in the same vein as many others, though. He felt Emelianenko was to be credited for turning in a vintage performance.
“Fedor was in great shape and he came in and did what he had to do,” Coker said. “He looked amazing, honestly. He threw combinations. He threw legs kicks like he hasn’t in a while, he surprised me. ‘Rampage, he did the best he could.’ He got hit and I think he just felt the power and he said, ‘There’s going to be another day for me and it’s not going to be tonight.’ Fedor is who he is. Even though Fedor is in the fourth quarter of his career and it’s the two-minute warning, the guy is still dangerous. Any day that he punches you it’s lights out.”