Bellator: The New Junkyard for Former UFC Talent

Alex NeelyContributor IIIOctober 2, 2013

Oct. 29, 2011; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Cheick Kongo during UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay event center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Former UFC heavyweights Cheick Kongo and Lavar Johnson are scheduled to make their Bellator Fighting Championships debut at Bellator 102 on Friday.

Unfortunately, both heavyweights at this point in their careers are much like Bellator—all structure and washed-up talent.

On April 2, 2009, CEO Bjorn Rebney introduced Bellator as "the first-of-its-kind mixed martial arts promotions company" at a press conference in Hollywood.

The "first-of-its-kind" structure hindered on an eight-man tournament in every weight class to determine a champion and later an eventual challenger for the titleholder.

"There is new blood here," said Matt Stansell, San Diego-based Bellator matchmaker, at the Hollywood press conference, via Sharon Robb of the Sun-Sentinel. "Everyone of these guys has a new story to be told and is going to be introduced to the public."

However, after eight seasons, Bellator seems to be introducing only old blood and old stories. 

During Bellator's first few seasons, the mixed martial arts community did not seem to mind the signing of former UFC talent such as Josh Neer, Roger Huerta, Neil Grove and Ben Saunders. After all, who could blame an organization in its first few years of structuring weight classes. 

In fact, the veteran faces began to give new talent such as Pat Curran, Michael Chandler and Cole Conrad credibility with hardcore MMA fans.

It was not until Summer Series 2011, when MMA journalists and fans began to question the "new blood" concept. Konrad, the then-Bellator heavyweight champion, fought former UFC fighters Paul Buentello, Seth Petruzelli and Ricco Rodriguez. 

Two years later, the trend has reached a fever pitch.

At Bellator 97, announcer Jimmy King orchestrated a professional wrestling style surprise as it was unveiled Quinton "Rampage" Jackson would fight Tito Ortiz on the company's first pay-per-view.

Both former UFC light heavyweight champions, the fighters were introduced as legends of the sport. And, in truth, both are.

Coincidentally, though, King neglected to mention Jackson is 2-4 in his past six fights, and Ortiz is a staggering 1-7-1 in his past nine bouts. 

Facts or records of washed-up talent were not mentioned at Bellator 99 when former UFC fighters Houston Alexander fought Vladimir Matyushenko in the headliner. Or at Bellator 101 when UFC alum Rich Clementi and Marcus Davis entered the cage.

And one can only assume Bellator will conveniently leave out certain facts when Kongo and Johnson enter the cage Friday.

But there is one glaring fact Bellator cannot ignore: Fans want a "new story."