Royce Gracie has now joined Randy Couture and Stephan Bonnar as the third UFC Hall of Fame member to jump ship to Viacom. Aging stars joining a lesser known organization with deep corporate pockets, turning their backs on the largest promotion in the world that helped make them just as much as they helped make it?
This is basically the forming of the MMA NWO. The only thing missing is a healthy amount of denim, Stephan Bonnar has the bronzing oil. All of it. If Royce Gracie, Randy Couture and Stephan Bonnar can lure over someone like Chuck or Forrest Griffin, the transformation will be complete. Imagine all of them getting together on Spike in the Bellator cage, cutting shoot promos on Dana White while spraypainting on the back of an unconscious Shlemenko.
Maybe Forrest and Chuck are too close to jump, but Bellator could very realistically get Mark Coleman, Dan Severn or Ken Shamrock. Miletich enjoyed a long commentating career for Scott Coker in Strikeforce. Hmmm. HMMMMMM.
I could see all of them now, Shamrock with his veins bulging, walking around the cage screaming. Stephan Bonnar and his hooded man cutting promos. Dan Severn holding a bunch of belts, Miletich laughing and chewing on a toothpick that he throws into the camera lens right before commercial…
And this move by Royce isn’t dramatic for just the surface reasons, his family invented the UFC. To move to Bellator is to walk out of the Octagon possibly forever.
Still, he can’t look back now. In fact, Bellator should be going after all of the UFC Hall of Famers now. It’s the only logical thing to do, and I know I’d be interested in seeing Mark Coleman interact with a masked man. Somehow I feel like this is just one more step towards a war, which is exactly what MMA needs right now: two promotions vying for our eyeballs.
Here’s what Royce said in a statement from Bellator:
“I have known Scott for a long time and have always respected him as not only a promoter but as a martial artist who has always treated fighters with respect and truly understands their value,” Gracie said. “Bellator and Viacom want to give fans exciting fights and enable fighters to continue to grow and most importantly provide for their family, and it’s something I want to be a part of. UFC has done a great job over the past twenty years in building this sport and taking it globally and I’m glad to have been part of that, but Bellator is a growing organization I am honored to be a part of, and with the dedicated and talented people already associated with the company, we can further the growth of mixed marital arts as a sport worldwide.”