After Quinton "Rampage" Jackson finished grounding and pounding Christian M'Pumbu on last night's (February 28, 2014) Bellator 110 main event, the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion took the mic in the middle of the cage at the Mohegan Sun Resort, and boasted of his intent to do horrible horrible things to colleagues in Bellator's light heavyweight division.
Jackson made an effort to single out his next opponent "King" Mo Lawal. Lawal took exception to this, and approached Jackson with the apparent depraved desire to cause catastrophic bodily harm. Thankfully, personnel were present to separate the two pugnacious pugilists, lots and lots of personnel; a few even wearing spiffy headsets with microphones, the kind often seen on the heads of clerks at Old Navy.
The brouhaha might not have occurred as organically as we, the viewer, were led to believe. This morning, Sherdog writer Jack Encarnacao tweeted a conversation he had with Mohegan Sun regulator Mike Mazzuli about the possibility of punishments for either Jackson or Lawal after their heated exchange. The conversation appears below.
Mazzulli: You saw me get up there, and I did look at it, and I'll review the tape later. But I know for a fact, you know, no one got hurt. It was Rampage is Rampage, and King Mo is King Mo, and the bottom line is, tickets got to be sold. And you know what? I'll review it. Highly unlikely I will fine anybody. No one got hurt. It was just a push.
Me: As a regulator, is it important for you to know from Bellator or Spike that that was pre-planned in any way? That must be germaine to your looking into it, right?
Mazzulli: Oh, absolutely. You hit the nail on the head. I was told about it, I was told about it yesterday at the weigh-in, and that's why there would be no cause and effect to it.
Me: So you had an idea?
Mazzulli: I absolutely had a, yeah. And it's something I don't like speaking about. But, you know, you ask me the question, I'm going to tell you the truth. It's going to be an interesting fight between the two.
Mazzulli seems to indicate that Bellator had prearranged the skirmish, anticipating wins from both Jackson and Lawal. Upon close review of the footage, this becomes even more plausible. The whole sequence of events sort of has a "stagey" feel to it. Notice the giant grin on the face of Bellator color-commentator Jimmy Smith.
The best part might be the dark-suited gentleman with the shaved head who steps in after the two clumps of humanity separate. His hapless search for a scrum to join resembles the manner of a bad offensive guard on the junior varsity football team who can't seem to find a linebacker to block on a counter play.
Lawal and Jackson are set to fight for real in the final of Bellator's light heavyweight tournament with a title shot on the line.
Update: The Mohegan Sun regulator clarified his statement when pressed by Jack Encarnacao of Sherdog:
I followed up with Mazzulli on the questions raised.
What did they Bellator you to expect?
Mazzulli: Basically what they stated, they said, as you know, both fighters get very excited after the fight, and words may be said. Nothing was discussed about a fake fight and being ready to stop it, that was absolutely not the case. The case was that the two fighters get very excited, and if something occurs, we're going to stop it, but I just wanted to give you a heads up that they're very emotional after each win. There was nothing about a setup or any of that, absolutely not.
I regulate combative sports. When it comes to the production of the TV and everything, that's not for me to say unless there's a safety issue with the fighters. And if something did occur to the point where I felt it was excessive, a sanction would definitely have happened. But I was not told they were going to yell at each other, any of that. I was just informed that both fighters get very - I guess you want to say, "pumped up" - and are very verbal, and everyone knows that they are.