Bellator's light heavyweight champion, Attila Vegh, told Wojslaw Rysiewski of MMARocks.PL that the promotion made him sit out of an upcoming fight in order to set up for a rematch between former Strikeforce champion and 2013 Summer Series winner "King" Mo Lawal and the man who beat him earlier this year, Season 8 Light Heavyweight Tournament-winner Emanuel Newton.
so Bellator is all about competition, not "hype and matchmaking politics"— Wojslaw Rysiewski (@mmarocks_pl) August 31, 2013
Meanwhile Bellator LHW champion Attila Vegh tells us he's shoulder is fine but BFC made him sit out and matched Lawal vs Newton for the belt— Wojslaw Rysiewski (@mmarocks_pl) August 31, 2013
@daleantonius he's not event injured— Wojslaw Rysiewski (@mmarocks_pl) August 31, 2013
That is most unflattering news for the California-based promotion.
Bellator MMA has always promoted itself as a sport-first promotion, running opposite to the UFC, which sometimes prioritizes popular fighters ahead of legitimate contenders in their championship matchmaking. However, in recent months the promotion has started to let that notion slip.
Bellator and its president, Bjorn Rebney, have been criticized heavily for what seems to be a complete indifference to the fact that their long-time welterweight champion, Ben Askren, is openly fielding offers from the UFC, coupled alongside recently-announced bouts between former UFC light heavyweight champions Tito Ortiz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, as well as a rematch between lightweight champion Michael Chandler and former champion Eddie Alvarez. Season 7 Lightweight Tournament-winner David Jansen is the on-paper top contender at 155 lbs at this time.
That, however, is nothing next to the above tweet. Attila Vegh may be the promotion's champion after beating Christian M'Pumbu in February, but lags mightily behind Lawal, who also splits time these days as a professional wrestler for TNA Impact Wrestling.
Lawal is, by far, the most well-known light heavyweight Bellator has on their roster and, as such, having him as champion would almost certainly translate to big money for the promotion. The bout between Lawal and Newton, which will air as part of the promotion's first PPV event, is slated to be an interim title match, which is unnecessary given Vegh's apparently-fine health.
Stick with Bleacher/Report for more updates as this story develops.
Bellator has released a statement on Vegh's injury. You can read it in its entirety here. The important bits are as follows:
Numerous websites yesterday posted a story regarding Attila Vegh and statements he allegedly made to a reporter while in Poland. The interview was done in Slovakian, through a reporter speaking Polish, and a number of US websites published the story with inaccurate and misleading information.
Please see the attached medical report to this email, a doctor's report provided to Bellator by Attila's doctor detailing his injury and instructing him to do nothing for 2 months.
Additionally, Attila has confirmed that his statements were not translated correctly and were not accurate...Attila will be facing the winner of the Newton vs. Mo Interim World Title fight in early 2014.
MMA Rocks, however, is sticking to its initial report:
Vegh's medical report, as issued by Bellator, is from April 15th with a recommendation of 6-8 weeks. So by mid-June he should've been fit.— Tomasz J. Marciniak (@tjmarciniak) September 1, 2013