The tail-end of 2020 saw the UFC make some surprising releases from their roster. In turn, that led to Bellator President Scott Coker picking them up.
To the surprise of many, several names within the larger weight classes parted ways with the UFC this past year. All of which have since joined their counterpart in Bellator MMA. Most notably these names include perennial top light heavyweight contender Corey Anderson, and former UFC title challengers, Yoel Romero, and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Following the release of Romero, UFC President Dana White would be asked for his reasoning at a press conference. In addition to his explanation, White noted that upward of 60 roster cuts would be made in the coming months.
“You’re talking about a couple of guys that really made a difference in their division,” Scott Coker told MMA Fighting when speaking about the recent UFC releases. “I’m surprised they didn’t want to keep them. To me, it’s a great opportunity for us.
“To be honest, I think we’re a better fit for those guys. They’ll have a great home here. I think they’re going to be extremely happy here. A couple of the guys that I talked to, they wanted to make the move. They wanted to come to Bellator. People see when they get here how we treat the fighters and how it’s a family atmosphere. Yes, it is a business so we run like a business but it’s really run a lot different than other organizations.”
For Bellator, this isn’t the first time they’ve capitalized on the free agency market in a big way. In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of former UFC stars Gegard Mousasi, Rory MacDonald, Ryan Bader, and Cris Cyborg all go on to become champions in the promotion — three of which are currently titleholders.
“At the end of the day, I think the fighters wanted to be here,” Scott Coker said. “They made the move to be here. I think each one of those guys had different circumstances with their past employer and I don’t think that they wanted to take this fight or that fight and some ultimatums were thrown around is what I heard. It just didn’t work out.
“Too bad for them, good for us and now look at that light heavyweight division we have.”