Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will eye a third straight victory. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Bellator MMA officials envisioned this battle long ago.
Quinton Jackson and Muhammed Lawal will collide in the Bellator Season 10 light heavyweight tournament final to headline the Bellator 120 pay-per-view on Saturday at the Landers Center in South Haven, Miss. To the winner goes a crack at the Bellator light heavyweight championship currently held by Emanuel Newton.
Jackson remains one of MMA’s most recognizable figures. A former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder at 205 pounds, “Rampage” has delivered back-to-back knockouts against Joey Beltran and Christian M’Pumbu since arriving in Bellator in November. The 35-year-old Memphis, Tenn., native has secured 23 of his 34 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission, 16 of them inside one round. Wins over Lyoto Machida, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson and Chuck Liddell (twice) anchor Jackson’s stellar resume.
A onetime Strikeforce champion, Lawal will enter the cage on the strength of three wins in his past four outings. The 33-year-old Murfreesboro, Tenn., native last appeared at Bellator 110 in February, when he advanced to the 205-pound final with a three-round unanimous decision over Mikhail Zayats at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Lawal was a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler, earning the honors twice at the University of Central Oklahoma and once more at Oklahoma State University. He owns a 4-2 mark in Bellator.
With the Jackson-Lawal tournament final as the centerpiece, here are 10 facts surrounding Bellator 120:
FACT 1: Michael Chandler wrestled at the University of Missouri, where he was an NCAA All-American, two-time Big 12 Conference finalist and four-time NCAA qualifier. Chandler is one of 22 wrestlers in school history to record 100 career victories.
FACT 2: American Top Team’s Will Brooks is 5-0 in fights that reach the judges.
FACT 3: UFC hall of famer Tito Ortiz has not recorded consecutive wins since he beat Patrick Cote, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin and Ken Shamrock (twice) in succession between Oct. 22, 2004 and Oct. 10, 2006.
FACT 4: Reigning Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko has fought in nine different countries during his 57-fight career: United States, Russia, India, Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Kazakhstan and Brazil.
FACT 5: When 2008 World Sambo Championships gold medalist Blagoi Ivanov climbs into the cage to meet Alexander Volkov in the Bellator Season 10 heavyweight tournament final, two years, three months and 21 days will have passed since his near-fatal stabbing at a Bulgarian nightclub.
FACT 6: Undefeated London Shootfighters karateka Michael Page has finished each of his first five opponents, scoring those stoppages in a total time of 9:01.
FACT 7: The two men to whom Dagestani featherweight Shahbulat Shamhalaev has lost, Pat Curran and Khabib Nurmagomedov, own a combined record of 42-5.
FACT 8: Brazilian judoka Fabricio de Assis Costa da Silva has 12 submissions to his credit: four by armbar, three by kimura, two by triangle choke and one each by arm-triangle choke, rear-naked choke and keylock.
FACT 9: Featherweights Zach Underwood and Austin Lyons have fought once previously, with Lyons taking a five-round split decision under the Empire Fighting Championships banner in October 2010.
FACT 10: “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 alum Mike Wessel once worked as the strength and conditioning coach for the football team at the University of Arkansas.