A couple of weeks ago, nearly all of the MMA world’s spotlight was focused on the UFC, and all the big fights they have on the horizon. If and when Bellator was being mentioned by pundits and the press, chances are it was about whether the promotion should be in the Shamrock – Gracie III, Slice – DADA 5000 business…
But, before you knew it, Bellator announced it had added Sergei Kharitonov to the roster, then Benson Henderson came on board, Chris Leben did too. Michael Chandler re-upped with the company. Bellator wasn’t able to lure Alistair Overeem away from the UFC, but earlier today it announced that “Rampage” Jackson is returning to the promotion. Now, all of a sudden, lots of people are talking about Bellator, and it’s not just conversations that may or may not include the term ‘freak show’.
Of course, it remains to be seen how all these additions play out, and whether or not Bellator is able to put together some fights that will appeal to both mainstream and hardcore fans. If Jackson comes in and ends up having a dud fight with Tito Ortiz, then sure. Critics will begin piling on. But, if “Rampage” returns and ends up facing say, Phil Davis, in a memorable battle? Then things could get interesting no?
The same goes for Henderson. If his upcoming bout with Andrey Koreshkov proves to be a barnburner, then not only will Bellator gain exposure through Henderson, but it will make Koreshkov a more valuable asset. Someone who is no longer just a name that just die hard fans are interested in. If Henderson moves back to 155, there’s also some fantastic possibilities.
So, really the jury’s out on whether this recent exposure Bellator’s been getting, can be translated into productive fan buzz. Talk that’s been somewhat lacking since before the promotion’s not terribly well received, ‘Dynamite’ card.
If this Friday’s card does feature wince inducing, ‘what are we watching here’ moments, then Bellator could be in need of some epic fights in the short term. Scott Coker did it before with Strikeforce, no question, so it will be interesting to see if he can use these recent signings to reproduce that magic.