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Mo Lawal Vs. Rampage Jackson: Could UFC Sell It?

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Muhammed Lawal is itching for a fight with Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson. In the video above, the Strikeforce light heavyweight contender details his background with Jackson, how their relationship (to the extent there was one) went sour and then issues an open challenge for a fight. The video itself is a bit tedious, but if nothing else underscores Lawal's intense revulsion for all things Rampage.

I can't speak to the merits of Lawal's claims, but it's neither here nor there. The real question is whether this is a fight the UFC can legitimately sell. On the positive side, Lawal vs. Rampage would probably have some measure or local success within the Japanese market as a draw. It certainly wouldn't rival a Rampage vs. Shogun rematch given the profile of both former UFC light heavyweight champions and intrigue of the bout itself. But suffice it to say, Lawal vs. Jackson would be a sufficient card filler as a feature or co-main event if we're measuring it's viability by Japanese fan interest.

On the negative side, Lawal is not an opponent who does much for Jackson's career at this juncture. That isn't to suggest he isn't a stiff challenge. He most certainly is. But as Rampage gets closer to the twilight of his career, it's a fight with a ton of risk and little career reward.

There's also the issue of what stateside viability the fight carries. Lawal isn't yet the sort of name anyone beyond the hardcore is deeply familiar with. While a Japanese audience might move through the turnstyle to see the fight, would the North American audience be interested in seeing Rampage fight someone whose introduction would be made to them as Rampage and Lawal touch gloves? Seems unlikely.

Let's see the monetization plan for the UFC's return to Japan. I'm not sure I entirely understand the model of having the Japanese show on free television lead into a pay-per-view. I'm not sure any of us do. But if there's a way to include the fight to attract the Japanese audience, offer Jackson the proper incentive and sell it to the North American audience (a tall order), I'd love to see the fight made.