Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said Friday during a hastily called conference call that Tito Ortiz suffered a fractured neck during training for his planned Nov. 2 bout against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, forcing the cancellation of the bout and moving the rest of the card off of pay-per-view and onto Spike TV.
The card now will be headlined by a lightweight title match between Michael Chandler against Eddie Alvarez as the main event in Long Beach, Calif. Chandler won the title from Alvarez in a spectacular 2011 fight.
Rebney said the remainder of the card will go on as planned. In addition to Chandler-Alvarez, the card will include a featherweight title bout between Pat Curran and Daniel Straus, a light heavyweight rematch between Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal and Emanuel Newton and the Fight Master finale between Joe Riggs and Mike Bronzoulis.
Rebney said Ortiz's injury is long-term and that he won't be able to fight for several months, at least. Rebney said Ortiz "is devastated," and said the injury was unrelated to a previous neck surgery Ortiz had while he was fighting for the UFC.
Rebney said Ortiz called him several days ago and said he was intense pain. Rebney arranged for Ortiz to see a doctor in Orange County, Calif., two days ago. The results of the MRI were then forwarded to Dr. William Smith in Las Vegas, who had performed surgery on Ortiz' neck previously.
"All kudos to Tito [because] Tito wanted to move forward, Tito wanted to progress, Tito wanted to fight," Rebney said. "His doctor said absolutely not. His doctor went so far as to say given the fracture and where it is located, if he were slammed on his head in the wrong way or hit in the wrong way that conceivably the fracture could go as far as to cause paralysis. And Tito was still interested in trying to figure out a way to move forward.
"I wasn't in favor of it. His doctor wasn't in favor of it. Life's too important. He's got two beautiful kids and you can live to fight another day, as they say. I've only had all the substantive information for about a day now and finally got everybody on the phone to make some decisions."
Rebney said he is hopeful of being able to get Jackson a fight as quickly as possible. He said he hoped Jackson would fight on Spike TV before Thanksgiving.