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Bellator snaps up another UFC veteran

By on May 25, 2017

Roy NelsonBellator has signed yet another UFC veteran, bolstering the depth of their heavyweight division with the addition of Roy “Big Country” Nelson. Nelson’s contract with the UFC expired after his last bout, which saw him dropping a decision to Alexander Volkov in April.

Nelson kind of had a mixed bag when it comes to his UFC career, but the memorable knockout wins allowed him to earn stature beyond what his 9-10 UFC record would suggest. He also won “The Ultimate Fighter 10,” of course, displaying a combination of ground-and-pound and the huge winging right hand that would win him several UFC fights during the show.

It’s kind of surprising that he was able to carve out such a lengthy UFC career, based on the fact that UFC President Dana White never really took to him. There were several times, most notably his three-fight losing streak in 2014-15, where I thought for sure that he’d be cut, but his popularity helped him keep his job, especially in a heavyweight division where star power is always welcome.

This continues a very notable trend from over the past few years where Bellator has switched its focus from developing young talent through tournaments to signing well-known fighters with UFC backgrounds. Along with former UFC champions such as Tito Ortiz, Benson Henderson, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Bellator’s ranks now include Chael Sonnen, Rory MacDonald, Ryan Bader, Phil Davis, Matt Mitrione, and Cheick Kongo.

In nearly all of those cases, the fighters in question have something left in the tank, but aren’t necessary going to be title contenders in the UFC anymore. That makes Bellator the perfect situation for them, and it’s good to know that there’s an organization where veteran fighters can continue to make money and fight on TV instead of toiling away in smaller promotions once the UFC no longer wants them around.

You also have to wonder how much the UFC’s ridiculous sponsorship deal with Reebok is costing them with these fighters. After all, even if Bellator doesn’t pay quite as well as the UFC, the difference in sponsorship money can quite easily make up the difference, since Reebok pays peanuts in comparison to what many fighters were getting through their own sponsorship deals.

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