Bellator Open to Signing Former Strikeforce Fighters, but Don’t Expect a Massive List

January 11, 2013
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Since its inception, Bellator Fighting Championships has been a promotion that prided itself on building talent from within the organization and not picking up the scraps leftover from the UFC.

Now that’s not to say that Bellator hasn’t signed fighters after being released from the UFC – Ben Saunders, Paul Daley, and Maiquel Falcao are just a few of the former fighters that competed in the Octagon and received their walking papers before Bellator snatched them up.

But with Strikeforce on life support and only days remaining until a list of fighters becomes available after the inevitable happens and they are released when the promotion is no more, will Bellator swoop in to sign a huge lot of them?

Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney says that has never been his company’s business plan and he doesn’t think it will change just because Strikeforce is gone, but if talent is there and it’s worthwhile, he would be open to exploring the option.

“One of my focuses when I built up the business plan was to build from within, to create our own superstars and to not be like the EliteXCs and the IFL’ and the Bodogs and the Afflictions and all of these different groups who tried to grab the fighters that had been released by the UFC and ultimately try to re-ignite a fire that had once existed under those guys. I think that’s one of the things that set us apart,” Rebney told MMAWeekly Radio.

Rebney believes building up champions like they’ve done with fighters such as Michael Chandler, Pat Curran and Ben Askren is key to a promotion separating themselves from the competition.

Still, it can’t be ignored that if a truly talented fighter is available, Bellator would be remiss if they didn’t jump at the chance to sign somebody like they did after former Strikeforce champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal was released from the promotion earlier this year.

“That’s going to stay our focus, but look at King Mo Lawal, when a guy like that becomes available and we are able to get into a bidding war and ultimately win on a guy like King Mo, and do a deal like we did with Dixie Carter (from TNA wrestling), that’s a no brainer,” said Rebney.

He also pointed to former UFC and Strikeforce contender Renato “Babalu” Sobral as a sterling example of a fighter too good to pass up on just because he had already fought in those other promotions.

The possibility remains open for Bellator to sign some of the fighters left over after Strikeforce officially shutters its doors in about 48 hours, but don’t expect a mass exodus of fighters to compete there on Saturday and find a new home with Bellator on Sunday.

“The door is open to it, but there’s never like a lock in on it and say ‘hey, we’re going to do that for sure.’ You look at it on a case by case basis, you see where a guy fits in and if he’s got the right fit for the organization, and if so there aren’t any handcuffs on us doing something like that. You could see it,” Rebney stated.

“As Strikeforce disbands, as a lot of us have known and thought was going to happen for a long time, we’ll see what happens and we’ll see who’s available.”

Stay tuned to MMAWeekly.com for all the latest Bellator MMA news and updates.

  • dan

    I dont mind Bellator picking up any free agents if you ask me. Just because a guy wasnt successful against the best guys in the UFC doesnt mean he cant put on exciting fights in BFC. I wouldnt mind BFC picking up a guy like Vera. I think Vera could put on a great scrap with a guy like Babalu.

  • http://twitter.com/julianmoranart julian moran

    Bjorn Redney does build his superstars on other promotion’s rejects. He has upcoming talent make a name for themselves by beating ufc… rejects, Otherwise few would pay attention to them or Bellator.

    I will not watch a Bellator event until they agree to release Eddie Alvarez.

    • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

      “Bjorn Redney does build his superstars on other promotion’s rejects.” And the UFC builds itself on getting top talented fighters from other organizations. Like Hector Lombard etc etc. It’s business. Of course he’s going to welcome guys who don’t make it in other leagues. There still talented fighters that need a place to perform in. And calling fighters rejects makes no sense. Very disrespectful to many fighters out there. I don’t think you would go to an event and call fighters rejects. Silly fan.

    • Joey

      Bjorn Redney’s (as you so eloquently put it) top fighters in the past few years are:

      Hector Lombard
      Eddie Alvarez
      Cole Konrad (retired)
      Douglas Lima
      Ben Askren
      Ben Saunders
      Pat Curran
      Freire Brothers
      Joe Warren
      Marlon Sandro

      All together 7 fights in the UFC and all from Ben Saunders. I would hardly consider that “other promotions reject’s”. In fact I would say its quite the opposite.

  • Joey

    Lets hope these free agents and former Strikeforce fighters don’t do to well in Bellator. They might get the attention of the UFC and try to jump over/jump back when their contracts with Bellator expire.

    We all know how well that will go. Just ask Eddie Alvarez or Tyson Nam……

    • bill x.

      Read the comments from others to get an mma education. Thanks sport.

      • Joey

        Okay “sport”. Feel free to get a grasp on the concept of sarcasm.

  • jrpinkums

    Who is this Damon martin guy lol?? Really??
    Bellator is full of ” scraps ” leftover or booted from other organizations. Of course Born would welcome fighters with any name recognition like he has already. That’s news??????
    Are you kidding!???? And Born(wannabe Dana white)
    Needs to accept that his oginization will always be a jr league where fighters can prove themselves ( basically another TUF) and let them leave when called UP yo the UFC.
    Quit trying pretend its not anything but. While its one of the best Jr leagues out there, it still is a jr and always will be. Nothing wrong with that, just accept it and vrllator will thrive and grow and continue to flourish off of the UFC.

    • http://www.CombatScienceMMA.com/ CombatScienceMMA

      Are you kidding me? Almost all of the fighters in Bellator are talented. Don’t hate on all the fighters in the promotion if you have an issue with the promotion. If your a fan of the sport you give respect to all of those fighters in any organization. Yes of course the UFC is the best promotion out there, it’s where all the top fighters are but not everybody can be in top league.You have to respect guys who keep fighting in other organizations. Should they quit just b/c they may not ever make it in the UFC? Takes balls to be in this sport especially with half hearted fans.