Freelance: "Rampage" in Rosemont

Bellator MMA has been in the headlines with a lot of big-name/NCAA signings and the announcement that they will be back on pay-per-view in June. But first, MMA fans might have to gear up for a tearful goodbye.

Jackson to Retire?

It seems that the career of MMA legend and former UFC champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson might be coming to an end. Jackson takes on rival “King Mo” Lawal this Friday, March 31, at the Allstate Arena in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Illinois.

The bout will be a rematch of the main event from Bellator MMA’s lone pay-per-view event and is Jackson’s last Bellator fight on a two-fight deal stemming from a year-long lawsuit settlement. Jackson had lost three consecutive bouts prior to signing with the organization. He then went 3-0 with two wins by knockout before suing the Viacom-owned company for alleged breach of contract and lack of promotion.

Before his legal troubles, Jackson fought for the Pride FC between late 2001 to early 2006. His time in Japan was highlighted by a failed debut against Kazushi Sakuraba. At one time a 17-year-old high school freshman, Jakson would lose by rear-naked choke but gain a massive following in Pride’s home nation of Japan due to his valiant effort. He would also have a famed rivalry with Wandlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva and win Pride’s middleweight championship.

During three stints with the UFC he would take down the likes of Silva, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, and more while also capturing a UFC light heavyweight (205-pound) title in the bout with Liddell. It was just his second bout as a member of the UFC roster. He had one successful title defense.

Jackson scored a unanimous decision win over Fabio Maldonado under the UFC in April of 2015 thanks to an injunction before settling with Bellator to fight Satoshi Ishii. He won that contest last June, albeit in lackluster fashion. He will now face Muhammed Lawal at the previously mentioned Bellator 175. The native of Memphis, Tennessee could go back to the world leader in MMA but does not appear interested (more on that later.)

Main Event Breakdown: King Mo vs. Rampage Jackson

Lawal, a wrestler for the University of Central Oklahoma is taking on a “stand-and-bang” brawler—a game plan that Jackson hasn’t changed since debuting in the sport. Based on statistics as recent as the Maldonado fight from FightMetric LLC, Jackson lands roughly three strikes per minute while taking two. He has a submission average of 0.1 percent.

It’s being reported that Jackson is coming into the Lawal rematch bigger than usual and Lawal seems to have the mental edge.

Jackson said in a recent interview with ESPN, “I would have to honestly say that my biggest regret is even starting this sport…I gained a lot of fans, I made a lot of money, but I feel like I lost my family,” he continued. “I don’t see them; I don’t know them.”

However, per Lawal’s official Bellator fighter profile, he has not had a win by stoppage since 2014 and last won against Ishii at Bellator 169 last December. Compustrike reports that over the course of 13 fights with Bellator, Lawal has landed 37 of 61 takedown attempts (61 percent) and 674 of 1,217 strikes thrown. The overwhelming majority of those are considered “non-power” strikes.

“Rampage”, who once had his power slam tested on the television show SportScience and proven to be the equivalent of having a baby hippo sit on your head, will eventually tire out with Lawal racking up takedowns that do nothing but score him points. With that in mind, this bout should be expected to be a defensive boxing match.

Pick: Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal by unanimous decision

Co-Main Event Breakdown: Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Marcos Galvao

The other major attraction on the card pits Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez against Marcos “Loro” Galvao. Galvao, is fighting up (literally) in both weight by competing at featherweight (145 pounds) and when it concerns height at 5’7” to Sanchez’s 5’9”. However, Sanchez hasn’t had a victory come by stoppage since Bellator 128 in October of 2014 and is going up against a former world title challenger at bantamweight (135 pounds.)

Sanchez, 26, also has youth on his side compared to the 34-year-old Brazilian whose last finish came by way of kneebar over 40-year-old Joe Warren a little more than two years ago. Still, Galvao could control this fight for the 15 minutes that it could go—his numbers don’t lie.

Per Compustrike, Galvao (18-3) has landed 58 percent of his career takedowns over 13 fights mentioned, and 47 percent of his overall strikes. Sanchez might overcome that with the RoufusSport training style that he described to as “technical aggression”—forcing the pace of the fight, doing his best to never step back, but keeping his head straight while in the heat of the moment.

Pick: Emmanuel Sanchez by unanimous decision

Marquee Bout: Sergei Kharitonov vs. Chase Gormley

Bellator is feeding Chase Gormley to a wolf in the form of Sergei Kharitoniv. Karitonov (23-6 with 22 finishes) is looking for his first win inside the Bellator cage after falling to Javy Ayala by knockout at Bellator 163. The fight lasted just 16 before the kickboxing champion in Kharitonov was put out for the night.

The 33-year-old Gormley (14-5, 1 No Contest) fought for the developmental Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Titan FC promotions before a Bellator debut and two-win streak by decision.

“Right now, what’s my immediate goal and what I’m looking at is fighting Chase Gormley and asking for a rematch against Javy Ayala, and once that’s done with I’ll see who’s next and who’s ahead and who’s fighting for the title” Kharitonov told

The Rest of the Card

  • Steve Kozola vs. Jake Roberts- Pick: Kozala by KO/TKO (career KO/TKO percentage of 86 percent)

  • Noad Lahat vs. Lloyd Carter- Pick: Carter by Decision

  • Joaquin Buckley vs. Justin Patterson- Pick: Buckley by KO/KO (five of six wins or 83 percent by KO)

  • Prince McClean vs. Adam Maciejewski- Pick: Maciejewski by Decision (one loss in roughly six years)

  • Damian Norris vs. Tom Shoaff- Pick: Norris by KO/TKO

  • Matthew Paul vs James Bochnovic- Pick: Bochonovic by Submission (four first-first-round submissions)

  • Nate Williams vs. Manny Vazquez- Pick: Williams by Submissions (13 career submissions)

  • Joshua Dustin Hardwick vs. Tim Cho- Pick: Even (2-0 vs. 2-0)

  • Josh Streaker vs. Tom Holder- Pick: Even (Debuts)

  • Cory Galloway vs. David Garcia- Pick: Galloway by Submission

  • Brian Akins vs. Mike DeLaViega- Pick: Even (1-0 vs. 1-1)

  • James Espisito vs. Asef Askar-Pick: Even (0-1 vs. 0-0)

  • Maximillian Fuentes vs. Brandon Shelhart- Pick: Shelhart by Decision (three wins by Decision