Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson won’t have much free time the next couple of months. Aside from training for their Nov. 2 meeting at Bellator 106, they are playing the role of promoter all over ESPN the last few days.
After making a Monday morning appearance on Sportscenter, they were guests on MMA Live and spoke about the differences between Bellator and the UFC. “There’s a lot propaganda that goes about it and my image has been belittled many, many times in the last 6-7 years,” Tito said. “A company shouldn’t be like that. A company should have the fighter’s back. All of the sudden you lose a fight and you’re the worse fighter in the world. All of a sudden you win a fight and you’re the best fighter in the world.”
Rampage then took a subtle shot at Dana White in talking about Bellator President Tim Danaher. “With Bellator we have a president that gets it,” Rampage said. “And sometimes I think he used to be a MMA fighter. He, kind of, basically thinks the same way I was thinking if I was promoting fights, you know what I’m saying. It’s the fighters who make the show, so why not try to make the fighters happy. We want to get out there and put our lives on the line to entertain the fans. So why not keep us happy?”
Yesterday, they visited First Take and expanded on why they feel Bellator is suited for fighters. “We want to be respected,” Tito said. “The fighters that fight in UFC see how we’re being treated. They want to be treated the same way. We put our lives on the line not only in fighting but in training.”
ESPN isn’t exactly known for their MMA coverage, but they could have given talking heads Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith a better line of questioning. The focus of their First Take segment had less to do with Bellator 106 and more to do with discussing Dana White. Then again, part of the reason Tito and Rampage are promoting the event two months in advance is to draw contrasts between the two organizations. Their goal isn’t just to hype the fight; it is to create a fan base and, possibly, lure fighters. Either way, their media tour is just beginning and we will have plenty of chances to hear them take shots at the UFC.