Bellator is Loading Up Their Welterweight Division
Bellator is a very interesting and exciting fighting organization. They debuted in April 2009 and had a rather unique system. Instead of a simple champion and a number one contender like most organizations, they had an 8 man tournament at 145, 155, 170 and 185 pounds to decide their champion. This year, they will have their 8 man tournaments, but instead of having them decide the champion, they will decide the number one contenders at each weight class with the winners getting a shot at the champion from the previous season.
Bellator Fighting Championships has been very busy in their off season, and has gained a lot of attention especially with their welterweight signings. It started with top prospects Jacob McClintock (6-0) and Ben Askren (3-0) and it has only snowballed from there. Just last week Bellator signed Dan Hornbuckle (19-2) who has had a breakout year in 2009 which included highlight reel knockouts of Akhiro Gono and Nick Thompson with the World Victory Road promotion.
When asked about the Hornbuckle signing, Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney had this to say;
“When we began the recruiting process for season two and beyond, Dan Hornbuckle was one of our top targets. To be able to land a fighter like Dan is another sign of our commitment to bring world-class fights to MMA fans on a weekly basis.”
Hornbuckle is a legitimate contender to win the tournament. At 28 years old, he has won 17 of his last 18 fights and of his 18 career wins, 17 have been stoppages.
In addition to Hornbuckle, Bellator announced yesterday that they had signed top European free agent welterweight “Judo Jim” Wallhead. Wallhead earned his judo black belt at 16 years old and won his country’s under 21 judo tournament by 19. He made his pro MMA debut at 21 and has compiled an 18-5 and is currently on a 6 fight winning streak.
Once again, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney had kind words for his acquisition;
“Adding Jim to our welterweight division is magic for Bellator. As one of Europe’s top welterweights, Jim will no doubt use our April tournament on FOX Sports Net to introduce U.S. MMA fans to what European fans already know. Jim is the real deal. As a fan, I can’t wait to see Wallhead, Askren, McClintock and Hornbuckle face off.”
Keep an eye out for this upstart promotion, as they provided plenty of excitement in 2009. There are at least two finishes from Bellator’s tournaments that will be on my “Best of 2009″ compilation which will debut soon. Bellator’s 2010 season begins in April on Fox Sports Net. Stay tuned.