Fraser Coffeen: Bellator recently announced the signing of former Strikeforce Heavyweight Brett Rogers who will debut for the company on June 22. Based on his past legal issues, some are questioning if this is a wise move. Should Bellator have signed Rogers?
Tim Burke: No. It's a ridiculous move and doesn't make a lot of sense. The man beat his wife in front of his kids and just did a jail term for it. He hasn't been successful when he has entered the cage lately either, so it is a really, really bad idea in general.
Fraser: I don't think it's the smartest move ever, but it does make sense. They're trying to bring attention to their product and, like it or not, this brings attention to the product. We're talking about it right now, right?
Nate Wilcox: Rogers has gone through the legal process. He pled guilty. He's apparently reconciled with his wife. I missed the part where citizens with convictions were not allowed to cage fight ever again. Seriously, the dude's job is hitting people in the face. Let him do what he loves to do and maybe he will cut down on the extracurricular activities. He never struck me as a bad guy especially, just someone who had too much success too fast, took on a bunch of expenses and then fell prey to the stress when the good times started to turn bad. If convicted felons aren't allowed to vote, aren't even allowed to cage fight, how are they ever supposed to get back on their feet? I suppose you also think Sam's shouldn't let him come back to the tire department? We're giving convicted felon Chael Sonnen plenty of chances, Brett Rogers deserves one too.
Tim: Who is saying he isn't allowed to fight? All the stuff you're saying is great, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a terrible move by BELLATOR to sign him. Even if you ignore all of his indiscretions, is Bellator generally in the market of signing fighters that are 1-4 in their last 5 fights? No. If some local promoter wants to make a few bucks off the guy, have at it. A national promotion taking an average fighter that just made the news for beating the crap out of his wife and sticking him on on MTV2 or Spike TV? That's a terrible idea. I don't care about giving the guy a chance if he was actually worth promoting. Hell, they signed War Machine basically right after he got out of jail as well (until he went back). But at least he was winning fights.
Ben Thapa: Despite being 1-4, Brett Rogers can fight much, much better than Eric Prindle. It's a good move for Bellator and a sign that they are willing to give people chances for their talent - which is exactly what every single successful sports organization ever has done. Domestic abuse is an awful, life-altering thing, yet Brett has gone through the judicial process, been slammed in the media and has presumably come out a better, more mature a person who can still fight better than the vast majority of Bellator's heavyweights. If it doesn't work out and Rogers either can't put on a good show or if he veers off the moral path, I'd imagine he's gone without a fuss. I have no problems with that as a fan or as a writer. My outrage-o-meter is barely blipping for this one.
Nate: Look at Bellator's Heavyweight division. I know it's an ugly scary thing but you looked at the pics of the guy who had his face eaten off too and survived that. Bellator's HW class is only slightly less frightening than that. Gnawed to the bone in a very similar fashion in fact. Frankly they should be signing every HW they can get their hands on this side of James Thompson (sadly Bob Sapp can't cut down to 265 or I'd say sign him too).
Brent Brookhouse: The problem is, there are many better fighters that they could have signed. I don't see any upside to the signing. We're talking about it because we care. It's not like Rogers is a big name. He fought on CBS and was KO'ed violently, people saw him fight Overeem and he got embarrassed, they saw him fight Barnett and he looked awful again and then he went and failed on the regional circuit.
They're not signing someone who is a talent who significantly improves their division. I'd take Tim Sylvia to beat Rogers 10 out of 10 times.
They're not signing someone who is a name.
And there's a big difference between the kind of villain people tune in to see, hoping they get beat, and just...bad guys.
The argument isn't "does he have the right to fight?" because the answer is "as long as he is licensed." The argument is "is it a smart move for Bellator?" and I think the answer is a very clear "no."
Nate: So you're saying Bellator should sign Tim Sylvia? I agree.
Brent: They should sign Tim Sylvia well before they sign Brett Rogers.
KJ Gould: I'd sort of expect Super Fight League to try and pick up Rogers. Rightly or wrongly, some people will pay to see Rogers get his ass beat again no matter which show picked him up, outside of the UFC. Bear in mind he'll never fight in a Zuffa run show again, which could be seen as a lifetime punishment on top of whatever jail term he did.
If Bellator get enough negative press, they may feel forced to cancel the deal. I can see it now: "Viacom employs wife beaters". Of course, that doesn't stop them showing Chris Brown videos on MTV.
I'm not so absolutist in saying Rogers should never be forgiven, especially if he's shown remorse and is seeking redemption. I'd have liked to see him serve a longer prison term, and for someone to puts the boots to him for what he did, but that's an aside. Shouldn't we be all for rehabilitation in the long run, and doesn't that include being able to find gainful employment as part of that?
Dallas Winston: I agree with Fraser and Nate here. I'm a little different in that 95% of my interest in fighters is constrained to their in-cage performances. If a fighter tests positive for steroids, to me that means little more than he'll be out for a while. Now, don't get me wrong -- Rogers' incident with his wife is one of the few scenarios that I would never brush off or overlook. However, while that reflects poorly on Rogers' integrity and character, I always remember that we don't know the specifics of the situation and I give him a tiny bit of leeway, and the bulk of my intrigue lies strictly within fighting anyway.
From that standpoint, it's an excellent acquisition. Heavy and light-heavy are Bellator's weakest divisions by miles. Rogers brings in some name recognition as a former top-10er (yeah, that really happened) and a Strikeforce banger. Even if Konrad tramples him, he's a fresh prospect... which they are in dire need of.
Ben: Kharitonov isn't committing anywhere in the negotiation process. Lopez is even worse than Rogers, Duffee wants more money, Ishii probably wants more money, Lashley wants more money etc. etc. etc.
And most of the Russians are under contract with M-1. Could Bellator snatch Guram? Possibly. Would it help their legal standing in the courts in the already extant dispute there? Not at all.
I agree on the Sylvia signing though. That should be Bellator's number one priority now for the HW division.