Bellator MMA has signed several former UFC fighters over the past couple of weeks and they officially announced the signing of former UFC champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson today during a media conference call.
Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney told TheMMAReport.com in February that the decision to sign former UFC fighters is done by a case by case basis.
After the signing of Jackson became public, many people in the mixed martial arts community questioned why Bellator has signed several former UFC fighters recently. During a media conference call on Wednesday, TheMMAReport.com asked Rebney why his organization has been signing more former UFC fighters lately.
“The dynamic in our industry has changed so substantially over the last three years or so and initially when I started this company, I looked what was going on around me and I saw a lot of mistakes,” Rebney said. “I saw a lot of people simple just trying to build their brand based on the back of their fighters that have left other organizations, predominately the UFC.
“We have now built out the Michael Chandler, Ben Askren, Pat Curran and the list goes on. At this stage in the evolution of our game, there are two players in the space. There is the UFC and there is Bellator from a world wide basis and a large scale television perspective.”
Multiple fighters from Bellator have made their way to the UFC over the past several years and in particular, fighters who were on season one of the organization in 2009. Current UFC fighters that had fights in Bellator during their inaugural season include Jake Ellenberger, Travis Browne, Hector Lombard, Jorge Masvidal, Uriah Hall, Nick Ring to name a few.
Bellator will sign more former UFC fighters as time goes on and according to Rebney, he knows that fighters who are currently under contract with his company will make their way over to the UFC.
“There are going to be UFC fighters that matriculate over to Bellator to compete. There are a number of Bellator fighters that have matriculated over to the UFC to compete. They got I think 15-20 of our guys that we cut, signed to long term agreements. We got, I think at this stage 15-20 of their guys signed to long term agreements.”
“It is just the nature of the game. You are going to see a lot more UFC fighters fighting over here and you are going to see a lot more Bellator fighters fighting over there. There are two big shows in the world today and that is where the best fighters in the world are going to compete.”