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Why Bellator Signing UFC Castoffs Hurts the Company's Image & Future

picture courtesy of heavy.com
picture courtesy of heavy.com
Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIMarch 6, 2012

Bellator is the second largest MMA organization in the world today and if it keeps buying up former UFC fighters and placing them in their tournaments, that is all they are ever go to be.

UFC is the largest brand available today and when a fighter competes long enough for them, they become a UFC fighter. Even those that don't last long in the company are branded "former UFC fighter" status. It's a great marketing tool, helps increase the salary for any fighter who has it and gives them bigger awareness in MMA news.

It is something that every fighter should willingly embrace because, at the end of the day, it helps their career.

Bellator is embracing it to having signed fighters like Maiquel Falcao, Rob McCullough and Ben Saunders to their ranks. They even acquired War Machine despite the fact that he had troubles with the law in the past which has lead him going to jail yet again.

There isn't much of a point in signing a fighter like War Machine or letting Ben Saunders take place in a tournament to fight for the belt except for one reason.

They have name recognition.

For a new promotion like Bellator, they want to have as much built in marketing as they can for their events, but using branded stars won't help them.

It may be a bit callous to refer to fighters in a way that sounds like Bellator is dealing with cattle, but the logic isn't unfounded. Fighters who have been built up and tied in with a certain brand will always be stuck with that connection.

People like Tito Ortiz or Randy Couture, even when they weren't active in the company, were considered UFC fighters.

There was no way to escape the brand and what it had done for their careers or the notoriety it had given them.

If Bellator continues to buy up former UFC fighters, they will get the reputation of having some great fighters. They will also be known for having fighters who couldn't make it in the UFC and, if those fighters win the championships or even come close, then that is all Bellator will amount to.

A place where those who couldn't be the best in the world go to still get a healthy paycheck. That is all their championship will amount to as well.

Bellator now has the possibility of rivaling the UFC someday. It wasn't possible in the past, but now that they have been bought by Viacom, they have the capitol and the backing to do so.

They just need to remember that just like their tournament format, they are a different product then the UFC.

Their fighters need to be the same.

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