Both Tito Ortiz and Rampage Jackson are signed to Viacom and operating under contracts that allow them to work for both Bellator, a mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, and TNA, a pro wrestling company. The two are scheduled to fight at Bellator 106 in the first pay-per-view (PPV) event in the organization's history.
It's kind of a big deal.
In preparation for as much, the two have used TNA's flagship television program, Impact on Spike TV, to help promote as much. It's an interesting decision that could have far reaching implications as far as the future of MMA in the United States. Ortiz and Jackson are already appearing in storylines on Impact, with Ortiz portraying a mystery man who has yet to reveal his true intentions and Rampage having joined up with the Main Event Mafia as its main muscle.
So far, only Jackson has gotten physical in the ring. According to an interview Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney gave to MMAMania.com recently, that's about to change. In fact, he says both Ortiz and Jackson are in "hardcore training" in preparation for their first match:
"You haven't seen Rampage or Tito really wrestle yet. That's coming because they are in hard-core training as we speak. We are setting the tone now for the storyline perspective. It's not surreal, only because I've been talking to Dixie about it for so long and her and I have been bandying about ideas and options and concepts. Guys like King Mo, Rampage and Tito are perfect foils for stuff like that."
On top of that, Rebney delved into the decision to cross promote with TNA and why it makes sense for both sides:
"Dixie has an amazing show that does huge numbers on Spike, with millions of viewers on a consistent basis. It's an incredible platform. It is incumbent on me as a promoter of mixed martial arts, as the head of the second largest MMA organization of the world, I have to figure out how to bring more consumers over to MMA.
"Ninety-nine out of 100 people that watch MMA for the first time or go to a live event are going to come back. So if I can pull even five percent of those viewers who are watching Impact to Bellator ... If I can get them to tune in because they see Rampage or they see Tito or they see Mo, that is incredibly important, not just for Bellator, but for the entire sport of MMA.
"I love it. I think it's cool. I love the fact that my guys are making money in a different arena. I love the fact that I'm helping and Dixie has been cool enough to help build their brand in a different arena for a different fan base. I think it's all positive."
The ratings have yet to show any signs of improving since Rampage and Tito came on the scene on Impact and one would assume that doesn't bode well for their potential to draw money in an MMA bout on PPV.
Still, anything is worth trying when you've got nothing to lose and with Viacom backing both organizations, the powers that be on both sides can take chances like this with little to no repercussions.