It appears that Bellator MMA has seen UFC’s signing of CM Punk and decided to raise them a few more pro-wrestlers. Bellator is close to signing for WWE Superstar Alberto Del Rio soon. Del Rio recently won the AAA World Title, but it is claimed he will split duties between Bellator and Pro-Wrestling. This is something Bellator is used to seeing, as Bobby Lashley is currently under contract with both TNA Wrestling and Bellator.
WWE tried to include MMA in their no-compete clause for Del Rio, however, Del Rio was able to get out of most of the clause. Del Rio did end up agreeing to certain parts of it, but it’s likely he will get around the clause. UFC may be part of the deal, but Bellator may not be. This allows him to still fight on TV.
While Del Rio would be a major signing for Bellator, they’re not stopping with him. According to The Wrestling Observer, Bellator plans to sign other pro-wrestlers to help bring in some extra attention. It is uncertain who they are currently targeting, but it can be assumed that all pro-wrestlers outside of WWE who are interested in MMA are potentially up for grabs. Due to the success of Lashley, Bellator sees the value of what wrestlers can bring to the promotion.
Clearly people with an MMA background are potentially there to sign for Bellator, but the company’s focus is mainly on building the company. Bellator originally wanted to bring in CM Punk. However, Punk was always going to be a UFC guy. Bellator had no chance, and would be unable to offer anything over UFC. That said, someone like Del Rio who UFC has no interest in would be an easy signing.
Now comes the part of who they’d go after in the Pro-Wrestling scene. That much is up in the air. Del Rio seemed like an obvious choice, he has actually worked in the MMA world before. Lashley was also an easy signing because people knew him from wrestling and he was working in the MMA scene before Bellator saw him. That said, if a wrestler of any name value wants to get involved in MMA, one can imagine Bellator will give them a call.
Bellator is trying to go a different direction marketing wise with the wrestlers, clearly. They also seem to be trying to go the promo route on their programming as well as we saw with Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar months ago. Could Bellator go the rumored Japanese route and have fights predetermined just like it is in Pro-Wrestling? That is tough to tell. One would imagine that they’d never do so. However, if the shows can be better doing so and bring more people in, it wouldn’t be shocking to see.
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