John LaRocca looks at booking Rampage in Bellator



When Tito Ortiz pulled out of the Bellator MMA PPV do to a neck injury,  Bellator had to not only change the PPV to a live event on Spike TV, but shuffle the remaining fight cards around for Season 9.   With Tito out,  Rampage Jackson was pulled from Bellator 106 and put in the main event of  Bellator 108 against UFC veteran and slugger, Joey Beltran.  
Even though Bellator 108 is less then a week away, I think Bellator should announce that Rampage vs. Beltran will be a semifinal fight of a new four fighter tournament for a shot at the Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship.   Then on the opening card of Bellator Season 10, you have King Mo Lawal in the other semifinal Light Heavyweight tournament fight.   The finals then would take place on the last show of Bellator' Season 10 on Spike TV in 2014.
Rampage versus King Mo would be one of Bellator's most successful shows and possibly do their highest rating ever.  Now, this is MMA and unlike pro wrestling, you can't control the outcomes to the fight.  But, with clever match making and understanding styles of the fighters, you can create match-ups that have a strong chance of delivering the outcomes you are hoping for.  
King Mo has had a rough go in Bellator so far.  He started in spectacular fashion by knocking out Przemyslaw Mysiala at Bellator 86 in the opening round of the Season 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament.  King Mo was the favorite against Emanuel Newton in the semifinals, but Newton knocked King Mo out cold with a spinning back fist.  King Mo rebounded and won the four fighter Summer Series tournament, but then lost again to Emanuel Newton in a fight for the Interim Light Heavyweight Championship at Bellator 106.  Bellator once again will have to rebuild King Mo.  
I personally thought Bellator MMA's booker Sam Caplan's match making of the 2013 Summer Series was brilliant.  Mo's first round opponent was Seth Petruzelli who man predicated King Mo would wipe the mat with and he did.  In the finals, Mo's strong wrestling controlled tough brawler Jacob Noe in dominating fashion.  Even if Noe was not in the finals, but the guy he beat in Renato Sobral, Mo's style would see him come out on top over the long time veteran. 
My choice for King Mo to fight in this scenario semifinal match would be the former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Christian M'Pumbu.   King Mo should have no trouble defeating M'Pumbu if he sticks with his wrestling.  M'Pumbu is not strong with wrestling and Mo, who is very high level wrestler,  should have an easy time controlling M'Pumbu on the ground.  If Mo wants to stand up with M'Pumbu that could be trouble.  I am willing to bet King Mo will easily get the takedown and win by TKO or an unanimous decision.  A win over M'Pumbu not only puts in him in the finals, but Bellator could market how King Mo defeated a former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion. 
If Rampage wins at Bellator 108 and King Mo wins his tournament fight the opening night of Season 10, Bellator and Spike could really build up Rampage versus King Mo to close out the season.  The promos alone would be amazing between two of the very best promo guys in MMA today.  King Mo knows how to play the bad guy and is the perfect heel to go up against the very popular Rampage Jackson.  
For this scenario to work, Rampage Jackson needs to win his fight at Bellator 108 against Joey Beltran.  That is no easy task.  Beltran is very tough and he could rock Bellator's world with a win over Bellator's biggest name fighter.  Rampage really needs to avoid a slugfest with Beltran and really use his wrestling to get the takedown and control.  
If this moon and stars are aligned, then Rampage versus King Mo could be one of the most marketable fights in Bellator history.  I would not do this fight on PPV.  Personally, I feel Bellator does not need to do PPV, at least not yet.  I would like Bellator continue to build their audience on Spike TV.   Even though Bellator has been around since 2008, their brand is still growing and in a few years with the right main event, I can see PPV in their future.  But, right now having the most eyes on the brand is the most important.  That is why they signed Rampage Jackson, to bring new fans to the Bellator brand. Rampage versus King Mo is that fight that will bring the most eyes on Bellator, guaranteed. 
John LaRocca 

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