If you had told me that a major signing that involved Bellator took place, my reply would be, "Which Bellator champion did UFC sign now?" That's why I was a bit flabbergasted when the news broke that Bellator had signed a star. Not a major star, but a star. Known for their reluctance towards splurging money, it was unusual to hear that Bellator had in fact signed Muhammed Lawal (King Mo).
Surely, Bellator didn't break the bank on Lawal. It appears as though the majority of the expenses regarding the signing of Lawal will likely be paid by Viacom because King Mo signed a co-promotional deal to appear on TNA, a professional wrestling show on Spike (read: Viacom) and Bellator, a future Mixed Martial Arts show on Spike (read: Viacom).
During his suspension from MMA, Lawal will wrestle in TNA, and you best bet Bjorn Rebney will be watching his future star with a bit of nervousness that he may be injured. But with that time Rebney has to wait for Lawal, the Bellator CEO better prepare the bed for Lawal. That bed is the Bellator's light heavyweight division.
Inking King Mo to a deal made Bellator's light heavyweight division a division that is one man deep. The division is absolutely putrid. Some of the fighters in the division like 34 year-olds Christian M'Pumbu and Travis Wiuff have some ability, but by no means should they be considered the elite crop of the company's weight class.
Lets face it, the talent pool of the light heavyweight division is shallow to say the least, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some fighters out there that can make Bellator's 205 weight class somewhat salvageable. So without further ado, here are ten light heavyweights that Bjorn Rebney and co. should sign.
The list after the jump.
(Disclaimer: I don't know the specifics of the contracts some of these fighters currently have with other promotions, but I'm going under the premise that Bellator could feasibly sign them)
Steve Bosse (9-1)
Marketable? Check. Entertaining Fighting Style? Check. Quality Fighter? Check. Steve Bosse, a former enforcer in the NAHL, should be a no-brainer signing for Bellator. He's a natural badass that has potential to garner a large following with solid victories over Houston Alexander and Marvin Eastman that highlight his current seven fight win streak. Only one of his wins have gone the distance, and his fists have lethal power. Bosse is the total package and would be a perfect fit for Bellator.
Vinny Magalhaes (9-5)
It's obvious that Magalhaes wasn't ready to compete in the UFC in his first stint in the world's number one promotion, but at 27 years old he has refined his game to make him one of the top fighters not signed to a ZUFFA contract. His stand-up has improved which is a massive positive for the jiu-jitsu ace. Few 205ers can match Magalhaes on the ground where he has submitted three of his last five opponents.
Jimi Manuwa (11-0)
The BAMMA debut of Jimi Manuwa was impressive. Scratch that. It was really, really, really impressive. Manuwa absolutely destroyed Anthony Rea in their scrap with explosive strikes and ground and pound that caused Rea to retire in between the first and second periods. Manuwa has major upside. He also finishes his fights, all of his fights to be exact; in fact, he has yet to let his opponent make it to the third round of a fight.
Emanuel Newton (17-6-1)
To be frank, Emanuel Newton's fights are quite boring. They may actually be the cure for insomnia. I wouldn't really know because I fell alseep halfway through all of them. Alright, enough with my terrible humor. Newton has wrestling and grappling skills that makes him a quality light heavyweight to add to Bellator's division. He also has a fascinating come-back story that Bellator could use to make Newton a star.
Wagner Prado (6-0)
This is one man that nobody wants to be under. He has nasty ground and pound, and on the feet his knees and kicks are equally gruesome. Ranked as the number one light heavyweight prospect on Bloody Elbow's extensive scouting report this year, Prado could break through as one of the game's top light heavyweights. The Team Nogueira product has the potential to be a top light heavyweight, and he could easily be the face of Bellator's light heavyweight division if he continues to refine his game.
Jan Blachowicz (15-3)
Although the ceiling may not be that high for Blachowicz, you know what your getting with Jan Blachowicz. Your getting a passable fighter that can add depth to the light heavyweight division and Bellator NEEDS depth in that 205 class. Winning twelve of his last thirteen fights, Blachowicz would be a good addition to Bellator's next tournament, especially if you account for the fact that he has a victory over current champion, Christian M'Pumbu.
Robert Drysdale (3-0)
Any person that watches a lot of Mixed Martial Arts probably has heard about Robert Drysdale or Drysdale Jiu Jitsu. Returning to MMA this summer, Robert Drysdale is a phenomenal talent on the ground and if his striking continues to develop then he is going to win a lot of fights. The aggressive nature of Drysdale on the ground is another positive, and Bellator should absolutely sign him.
Carlos Eduardo (9-2)
Nova Uniao is a camp that is synonymous with excellence in Mixed Martial Arts, and Carlos Eduardo has the potential to continue that under the Nova Uniao banner. After his loss to Jon Jones in 2008, Eduardo has won the rest of his fights, most notably his last one which was a second round knockout victory over Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Eduardo is a well-rounded fighter that would be a dark horse in a hypothetical Bellator tournament.
Chris Lokteff (7-0)
The Australian fighter has a lot of natural ability, and he has shown great skill in his two year MMA career, finishing all seven of his opponents in the first couple of rounds. It also helps that he looks like a man that gets makes a living off destroying men inside of a cage. Lokteff is a real fighter with real power that Bellator should scoop up before the UFC does.
Brandon Ropati (6-0)
Our theme of fighters that hail from the continent of Australia continues with Brandon Ropati who defeated Bellator veteran Sam Alvey in his last bout. Ropati can through some leather, and he isn't hesitant. He is also in need of a step-up in competition after dominating the New Zealand MMA scene.