March 31, 2017

Bellator 175: Rampage vs. King Mo 2 Is the Right Booking At the Right Time

By Raphael Garcia

Big matches that draw attention are important in entertainment-based sports such as those in the combat arena. Mixed martial arts continues to build a library of big fights, many of which occur under the UFC banner. But this weekend, Bellator MMA attempts to present its own version of a big fight by pitting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal against each other for the second time.

When it comes to star power, the Bellator roster is lacking compared to the biggest promotion in the game. That doesn’t stop the company’s matchmakers from putting together the fights that they believe will resonate with mainstream fans while keeping the hardcore contingent entertained. Jackson and Lawal shared the cage back at Bellator 120 in 2014 where they headlined the organization’s first venture into the pay-per-view market. That event brought in a reported 100K buys, but the organization hasn’t attempted to return to the platform, rather sticking to the free television market.

In the rematch between Jackson and Lawal, the organization brings together two popular mixed martial artists that know the business of fight promotion. While neither man has reached the level of champion within the promotion, they are two of the biggest stars Bellator has to offer. It’s clear that at this point in their careers, both King Mo and Rampage are focused on the prizefighting aspect of mixed martial arts, leveraging their star power for the highest paydays available.

In some ways, Jackson and Lawal should stand as an example to fighters looking to build their platforms today. Instead of chasing titles or waiting patiently in line for major opportunities; both men make an active effort to take the steps that are best for their respective careers. For example, Rampage leveraged his time as UFC champion into movie opportunities that may not have panned out but helped him become the star he is for this company. Lawal continues to play by his own rules, such as creating a deal with Bellator that allowed him to join the pro wrestling company Total Nonstop Action Wrestling while fighting for Bellator. Yes, neither of these opportunities led to the greatest of success for either man, they still stand as examples of how Rampage and Mo leveraged their popularity into openings that other fighters may never see.

Bellator MMA is in a very interesting place right now. The company is making an effort to bring in both fringe stars and new faces from other disciplines, hoping to find the next breakout star. At the same time, the company leverages bigger stars in hopes that some of the lesser-known talent will get “the rub.” Muhammed Lawal and Quinton Jackson are examples of fighters who have found success without the need to carry around titles, and Bellator 175 is a testament to their star power. The younger contingent could learn a thing or two from these elder statesmen of the sport.

Bellator 175: Rampage vs. King Mo 2 takes place March 31, 2017 at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

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