Quinton Jackson may be in the twilight of his career, but he's certainly far from done talking. As one of the few fighters to compete in almost every major promotion that has come along (with a few exceptions such as Affliction), Jackson has been around to see plenty of ups and downs in the MMA world.
In a recent interview, filmed by the good folks at Fight Hub, Jackson talked about why fighters should choose Bellator over the UFC:
If people were trying to decide on who to sign with, Bellator or the UFC, I would ask them to ask themselves what's more important to them? Longevity in a career? Or just being able to tell your friends that you fought in the UFC?
Granted, the UFC is the premier league right now. They're pretty much the name, they're the name that everybody recognize. So many people even think our sport is called UFC.
So if that's what you're looking for…is to be with the company for short term so you can say 'oh, I fight for the UFC," then go ahead and sign with the UFC. But if you want to be with a company that will allow you to grow and not tax you on your sponsorships and not throw you to the wolves on your first fight…basically treat you like a human being and will promote you if you are worth being promoted, then I will say go with a company like Bellator.
At the end of the day it's all about what you're looking for.
If you want longevity, I would go with a company like Bellator that you can grow with. And here's a secret that the UFC won't tell you, and will never tell you, but right now Bellator is getting more ratings than the UFC. And sponsors understand stuff like that. So a lot of sponsors are going to come over and jump to Bellator and UFC sponsorships are going to go down because if you don't have the ratings you don't have the commercial money and the people to watch the commercials and you don't have the endorsement dollars.
For reference, Jackson's lone Bellator fight (against Joey Beltran), was the best Friday night rating for the promotion on Spike TV pulling 793,000 viewers on average. Prior to that event, Bellator had been averaging 623,000 viewers on Friday nights, with their lone Saturday night show -- a Spike broadcast of what was originally to be a PPV event -- pulling 1.1 million.
In comparison, the UFC in 2013 on Fox Sports 1 only drew less than that 623,000 average once. Though it only beat out the Rampage number on FS1 twice in the year. Though, FS1 isn't exactly comparable in availability and notoriety to Spike yet, and it also requires ignoring the UFC's visibility in replays, their much higher Fox numbers four times a year and the pay-per-view numbers.
And, actually, those FS1 numbers referenced were for main cards on FS1. Prelims for Fox and PPV that air on FS1 are routinely destroying the numbers that Bellator puts up on Spike.
So really, any sort of hinting that Bellator is really playing on the UFC's level is complete and utter nonsense at this point.
Update: A Spike TV rep e-mailed to let me know that the complete average for Season 9 on Spike (including the Saturday night Chandler/Alvarez card) was 770,000.