Bellator MMA in recent weeks have moved on CEO Scott Coker’s promise to expand the promotion’s presence in the U.K and Ireland by signing no less than 23 fighting talents across the two isles. The intentions are to have a domestic series this side of the pond, events that start this Autumn.
It is unclear whether all 23 fighters will compete on these shows exclusively or whether more established talents will appear on the main Bellator cards. With some of the signings including Norman Parke, Terry Brazier, Lew Long, Walter Gahadza, Tim Wilde, Richard Kiely, Kiefer Crosby, Richie Smullen and Ion Pascu. Bellator, led by one of their newest additions, Euro matchmaking genius Jude Samuel, have exclusively sewn up a large portion of the talent pool across the two islands. This investment will only serve to further the development of the UK and Irish fight scene and is good news for fighters.
These signings and proposed events suggest an end to the partnership at local level with BAMMA, who secured their own lucrative TV deal with ITV only recently. While both benefited from talent sharing and cross promotion over the past few years the growth of the sport has meant demand may well see both flourish independently with their own respective TV deals. It would appear BAMMA have been left with a bloody nose given the exodus of fighters over to Bellator.
Speaking to WHOA TV, Northern Ireland’s Norman Parke stated that he was expecting his first fight with the promotion to be in America, although no fight is currently booked at present. Recently on social media both Parke and Terry Brazier exchanged words with Parke goading Brazier. WHOA TV understands that Parke challenged Brazier before he accepted the BAMMA lightweight title fight with Rhys McKee, who impressed but was ultimately controlled by the superiour Brazier for a large portion of the fight. Fans certainly would be interested in seeing this fight happen in the UK or Ireland over the next 12 months.
Tim Wilde adds depth to the lightweight signings, the English striker on a 3 fight win streak signed with Richie Smullen, another standout to bring stiff competition. Ryano’s talented stand up fighter Myles Price also signed on the dotted line and would make for a very interesting standup encounter with Wilde. SBG’s Smullen has already spoke of his desire to make an impact with the promotion. Lightweight and Welterweight see the largest investment from the Viacom owned company; 17 of the 23 new signings from 155 and 170LBS.
Full list of signings that were first revealed by Ariel Helwani are:
Terry Brazier, Pedro Carvalho, Constantin Gnusariev, Luka Jelcic, Charlie Leary, Norman Parke, Myles Price, Daniele Scatizzi, Sam Slater, Richie Smullen, Tim Wilde.
Ruben Crawford, Kiefer Crosbie, Walter Gahadza, Richard Kiely, Lewis Long, Ion Pascu, Jim Wallhead.
Dylan Logan, Nathan Rose.
Claudio Conti, John Redmond.