Contract news from Bellator today, and for once it's something to be happy about. The Viacom driven MMA franchise has picked up one of the MMA world's hot prospects by signing undefeated lightweight Bubba Jenkins. Bjorn Rebney announced the signing via Twitter earlier today:
Jenkins has only fought three times in his young MMA career with all three fights ending in the first round. Despite a short history inside the cage, Jenkins has been widely pegged as a hot prospect for his impressive college wrestling career which saw him go 21-3 his senior season, on the way to a D1 National Championship at 157lbs. He's a two time all American, and at only 25 he's one of the few accomplished collegiate wrestlers to make the jump to MMA immediately following their amateur career.
It's a somewhat surprising move considering that Jenkins had only last year signed a six fight deal with Resurrection Fighting Alliance, and was only one fight into the contract. Rebney spoke to TheMMAReport.com with the contract details.
"Bubba Jenkins is MMA’s top young prospect and we have the optimal developmental program to maximize that talent," Bellator CEO & Chairman Bjorn Rebney said. "Our mission is to sign and develop the world’s best fighters. Bubba’s development will be strategic and disciplined, taking all appropriate preliminary steps prior to his facing the rigors of the toughest tournament in sports."
Jenkins offered some insight on the signing as well:
"After sitting down with Bjorn, I really felt comfortable with the opportunity laid out for me, and this is where I want to be," Jenkins said. "Bellator is doing a lot of great things right now and I want to be a part of it. I’m not here to step on any toes, I’m here to develop as an elite fighter, get my shot in the tournament and eventually compete for a world championship."
With the incredible depth at lightweight in the UFC, it's not hard to see why a young fighter looking to make an impact in the sport quickly might jump at an opportunity to fight for Bellator. They can offer him a level of exposure that the rest of the American MMA landscape (outside the UFC) can't approach. It will be interesting to see how they handle building his career considering the problems they've had developing new stars recently, but it sounds like they'll be taking a much slower, more controlled approach.