Rampage Jackson stopped Joey Beltran in his 2013 Bellator MMA debut (Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA).
Written by MMA Contributor Chris Cox
We are well on our way into a very busy MMA-filled month of March, but of course I am always thinking about some past events and their effect on the sport.
It is mainly two fighters in particular that have me thinking, and they just so happen to be in the same division. Separate companies are involved, though, in Bellator MMA and the UFC. Both stem from the light heavyweight division, and I feel both fighters in question are getting too much hype when they need to do more. Those two fighters are Bellator MMA’s Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and UFC contender Daniel Cormier.
Both of the two men are great fighters, but they are receiving a little too much hype for what they have done recently. Jackson does have a huge list of big wins on his resume, there is no denying that. The problem is that the last two fighters who he faced are not even comparable to some previous names on his hit list. The first is Joey Beltran, who has not seen a win since 2012 and has met defeat by many notable fighters in ugly fashion. He took the fight when injury removed Tito Ortiz from it, and he turned out to be merely a sacrificial lamb to slaughter in a first round knockout. Jackson won via stoppage once again earlier this month over Christian M’Pumbu, who is undersized for the division, proving that when he weighed in six pounds under the 205-pound limit. Jackson is a big dude, and he had to step into the Bellator cage pushing 215. Next up for him is King Mo Lawal, which should provide a lot of fireworks, but the fact is that Lawal has not had a banner win since his decision victory over Gegard Mousasi in Strikeforce nearly four years ago.
Cormier has some big wins in this past year and remains undefeated, which is a huge seller when hyping a fight. My problem with him right now is his calling for a title shot. He only has one win at 205 since dropping from the heavyweight division, and it is over a guy with four fights who took the bout on a couple of weeks notice (Patrick Cummins). Cormier was coming off wins over Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, which easily could have set him up for a title shot at heavyweight. Of course, he left the division because he did not want to fight the current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez, who is a good friend and training partner of his.
With that said, I just cannot get behind Cormier having earned a crack at light heavyweight gold with just that one win, especially with it being over someone who we probably will not see on a main card for quite some time.
As I stated in the opener, both of these guys are elite in the world of MMA. However, I feel they need some more wins before they can be considered a top title contender or back to championship form, respectively. We have no definitive opponent up next for Cormier, who I would hope to eventually see in the Octagon against his original UFC 170 opponent, Rashad Evens. If not Evans, I would enjoy seeing him throw down against Phil Davis or Alexander Gustafsson, the only man to legitimately challenge champion Jon Jones and is returning to action this Saturday in London. If he was to have another stunning performance against either of them, then he could throw his name in the ring as being deserving of a title shot.
Jackson next faces Lawal in the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament, and that match will be interesting. However, a win over Lawal is still not the most impressive notch on a resume. Someone I would like to see him battle is Emanuel Newton, who has won 10 of his last 11, including two defeats of Lawal in the Bellator cage.
Both Cormier and Jackson will be in MMA headlines a lot over the next month or so, and both are big names who will bring a lot of hype. There are a lot of good fighters in the light heavyweight division of both organizations I mentioned, and my main purpose is to always see the best on display, not just a name on display. Taking that route can bring an organization down in less then 24 hours with the wrong loss. Just ask EliteXC and Kimbo Slice.