Following his cut from the UFC, Leonard Garcia has been receiving a number of offers from other MMA organizations, all vying for a chance to host a fight who boasts two of the most memorable fights in recent history. All, it seems, except Bellator MMA.
Garcia recently told MMAFighting.com that much of the negative press surrounding Bellator right now regarding the organization’s treatment of its fighters, particularly Eddie Alvarez and Zach Makovsky.
“The good offers have come from the World Series of Fighting,” Garcia stated. “I believe Bellator made an offer, and I haven’t asked to hear it yet because my intentionsare to come back to the UFC. I feel if I go to Bellator, I’ll never come back. That’s one fo the things where I’m not sure that I’m ready to hear an offer from them… I’ve also read some stories about a champion there that was promised so much money and was forced to fight for less… At the moment those are the stories that I’m hearing, and you can’t fight for a company like that. You just can’t do it. They’ll hold you back.”
For Bellator’s part, CEO Bjorn Rebney told MMAJunkie that the organization never offered a contract to Garcia.
“Leonard Garcia has never been approached by our company. We have never had any interest or expressed any interest in signing Leonard Garcia. But he claimed to have been approached by Bellator about signing. Now, I’ve got a lot of respect for anybody who steps inside the cage. I’ve got a lot of respect for anybody who’s got the guts to be a professional mixed martial artist. But with all due respect, we had no interest in signing him.”
According to Rebney, this is a recurring problem, saying that a Southwest gym owner and a manager on the east coast were also approached by a phony Bellator representative.
Garcia’s management, Haymaker’s Empire Sports Management, released a responding statement.
“In light of Bellator’s alleged legal chicanery with their own champions like Eddie Alvarez and Zach Makovsky, and high-profile fighters like Leonard Garcia making known their desire to avoid a potentially bad situation, it is not surprising Bellator is trying to get ahead of the bad PR plaguing their promotion. However, this story about a ‘phantom’ Bellator representative making phony offers to fighters just strains credulity.
“One must wonder, if this had actually been occurring, why Bellator waited until now- after Garcia made known his and other fighters’ mistrust of their promotion- to suddenly decide to make mention of ‘The Bellator Phantom.’ The claim appears childish and far-fetched at best.”
Haymaker Empire Sports Management President, Jerry Villasenor, explained that “Leonard got the call the day it had been announced that he had been cut by the UFC. He received tons of calls for interviews and tons of calls from promoters expressing interest. I think once they realized that Leonard had no interest is when the ‘Phantom’ was born.”
For Garcia, the offer is now a non-issue. He signed with Legacy FC, set to make his debut in that organization on July 19 against Rey Trujillo.
For Bellator, this marks yet another question to the organization’s already shaky reputation way of dealing with fighters.