Bjorn Rebney talks about potentially signing "Rampage" Jackson
Rebney spoke with reporters at Tuesday's open workouts for Thursday's Spike TV debut about free agents in the MMA game, as well as "The Warmaster" :
"I think you can count on the fact the guys who the UFC can monetize, who are draws, they will sign quickly," Rebney said. "Then the guys who haven't gotten there yet or who have had their day, they're going to let go. And we'll look, just like we look when a guy's contract comes up and see who conceptually we could sign, if it makes sense in our format. Our format's tough. There's no big getting to the end goal in our [tournament] format. There's no 'Kimbo Slice has a superfight,' if you're not good enough to compete you're going to get blown out in the first or second round.
"Our focus right now is the next three months, Rebney continued. "Everything we're doing right now is focused on that. [Barnett] hasn't been a topic of conversation in our meetings with the staff. Josh is a great character and he's had some great fights, but it's not really on our radar."
However, Rebney did seem open to signing potential free agent and former UFC light-heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson:
"I used to watch ‘Rampage' when he fought in Pride," Rebney said. "That's a tough question. He's an awesome, awesome fighter, and an incredible personality, and I've been a fan for a lot of years. How he could conceptually fit within the format and the structure we have? That is something where I would have to get people smarter than I around the table and discuss. I don't think he'd deny he's at the latter stages of his career. He's suffered a lot of injuries but he's still a rock star at a very high level, and we'll see what happens with his next fight. But we'll still have to sit around and figure out where he fits. He's exciting, he's entertaining, but, that would be one of those square peg, round hole situations, but sometimes you can make those work. It would depend on a lot of stuff. It would depend on the legalities of where he is with the UFC. ... We'll see. Who knows."
With the fate of Eddie Alvarez's Bellator status unknown due to his current legal battle and new deal with Spike TV, one can see the promotion's need to add another marquee name. The signing of a big time fighter such as Barnett and Jackson could also make for a stronger ratings push for the the promotion.
It's hard to blame Rebney for dismissing the idea of signing Barnett, who took in $250,000 for his wallopingof Nandor Guelmino at Strikeforce's final event. That hefty price tag is enough to scare any promotion other than the UFC away, which is unfortunate seeing as how thin and desperate the Bellator heavyweight roster is.
"Rampage", who is set to become a free agent after his fight with Glover Teixeira at UFC on FOX 5, could be an entirely different story. While he may also carry a large price tag, he also carries a larger name value to the casual MMA fan, who may not be as familiar with the work of Barnett. As Rebney stated, Jackson has had his injury problems which could pose problems for the promotion's tournament format. As Bellator continues to grow as the second biggest MMA promotion, the signing of Jackson could prove more than worth the risk.
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