What will it take for the UFC to wake up and begin flexing their muscles in the free agent market? Your guess is as good as mine, but in the meantime -- Bellator is making all the right moves. According to a press release sent out this morning, the Chicago-based promotion has made another brilliant move, signing the #4-ranked 2011 World MMA Scouting Report middleweight Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (15-1):
CHICAGO, Ill. (November 15, 2011) - In a continuing effort to scout and sign the world's best talent, Bellator Fighting Championships has signed highly-touted Russian striker Vyacheslav Vasilevsky.
Vasilevsky joins Bellator after an incredibly successful career in Russia where "Slava" compiled a dominating 15-1 record. Currently riding a 14-fight win streak, the 23-year-old prodigy will be fighting at middleweight in the Bellator cage. The two-time Sambo World Champion and K-Dojo product has had success at light heavyweight but feels at home at 185 pounds and immediately adds more world-class depth to the Bellator middleweight roster.
"This opportunity means the world to me," Vasilevsky said. "I'm really excited for the opportunity. I felt like I've conquered the Russian scene, and I'm ready to compete against some of the best in the world with Bellator. They have some great middleweights, and I want to test my skills against them as soon as I can."
"We've had tremendous success in the international market acquiring many of the world's best fighters," said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. "Vyacheslav is a world class fighter we've had our eye on for quite some time and he will make a tremendous impact on our middleweight roster."
Since his placement on the 2011 World MMA Scouting Report, he's rattled off four straight wins, most recently beating Polish prospect Robert Jocz by unanimous decision in June. A move to Bellator's 185 lb. division makes perfect sense for his continued career progression, although the UFC certainly would have provided a similar landscape for the Russian.
In a broader scope, the signing points to something I've been privy to over the course of the last six months. Russia's mixed martial arts scene is growing, and their young talent is seeing the benefits of fighting in the more attractive market stateside. Look for more Russian prospects to head to the U.S. in the first quarter of 2012.
Update by Brent Brookhouse:
M-1's Evgeni Kogan responded to the article being posted on Bloody Elbow with this tweet:
@BloodyElbow @bjornrebney Who has an existing contract with M-1 and is about to get sued.
So sounds like there's some hurdles that need clearing before Vasilevsky ends up in the Bellator cage.