Justin Lawrence signed with Bellator after they made a better offer than the UFC

One of the sayings that this particular reporter has is that perception is not always reality. One of the perceptions in MMA is that it’s a foregone conclusion that a RFA champion will sign with the UFC.

Photo via Bellator Press Release
Photo via Bellator Press Release

While we have seen nearly all of the recent RFA champions sign with the UFC, there is one champion that turned down the UFC to sign with Bellator. That fighter is featherweight Justin Lawrence.

Back in April, Lawrence (7-2) signed a multi-fight exclusive contract with Bellator and he will make his promotional debut next Friday night at Bellator 138 when he meets Sean Wilson on the preliminary card of the fight card coming from St. Louis.

During a recent interview with The MMA Report, Lawrence explained that following his win over Sam Toomer at RFA 25, he had offers from Bellator and the UFC. He went into his decision to go with the Bellator offer, which he stated the UFC apparel deal with Reebok kind of scared him and Bellator made a better contract offer.

“I train at Alliance MMA and I have been at the high level like the UFC,” Lawrence said. “I felt like that Reebok deal kind of scared me and at that time, we did not know what the stipulations of that deal were. We just knew something was going to happen. That kind of scared me away a little bit. Bellator came through with a way better contract and I am really proud to sign with them. I am ready to go out there and put on a good show for them.”

His opponent next Friday night has not been very successful recently. Wilson (34-25) has dropped eight of his last ten fights and all of those defeats have come by stoppage. It should be noted that two of those wins have come in his last four fights and he will enter this fight following a victory over Devin Cowan in April. Lawrence will likely enter this fight as a huge favorite on the betting lines, but he knows that Wilson will bring something dangerous to the cage next Friday night.

“He is the kind of guy that is going to go out there and fight me,” he said. “That is dangerous and a guy that has nothing much to lose. He straps some gloves on and starts swinging. He brings the fight to you and that is the most dangerous fight possible. He has power in both hands and he does not necessarily have to touch you on the chin. He just has to touch you. He has power and you have to respect that. It’s definitely not a fight that should be overlooked.”

“Sean Wilson has a really good overhand right. You definitely want to stay away from his strength. It would be silly of me to go in there and stand in the middle of the Bellator cage. Really kind of put the fight into his strength. Do I think I hit just as hard as he does? Yes. Do I think I am faster? Yes. Do I think my hands are crispier? Yes. Do I think I have better combinations? 100 percent. I am going to beat him with finesse, outclass him, and he has never fought a kicker like me.”