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Bellator roster purge sees exit of two former champs, surging prospects

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Despite some up and comers with a lot of promise and the tenure of some experienced talents, a bevy of fighters are getting their walking papers.

Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 2: A New Era
Rawlings has a possible landing spot, but the others may not.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It doesn’t happen very often, but this week Bellator has released 18 fighters from their roster. While organizations release talents quite often, we rarely see it happen with a large amount of fighters that include some very promising names on the list.

The news was confirmed to MMAFighting, and no details were given as to the specifics of the releases. It also should be noted that a lot the names listed had not competed since the COVID pandemic spread worldwide.

The parties released are:

Daniel Straus (26-9) - Former two-time Bellator featherweight champ that held his own against some tough names and had rivalries with Patricio Pitbull and Pat Curran. He had been previously arrested on drug charges in 2013, derailing a tournament in the process. He also notably suffered what was described as a near-fatal motorcycle accident years later and recently was arrested again on some grisly assault charges.

Liam McGeary (13-4) - A tall, lanky Brit with lethal grappling chops, McGeary arrived in Bellator and won the belt to later face Tito Ortiz at 10-0. He then suffered a loss to Phil Davis and went 2-2 before facing Davis again in 2019 in a losing effort after he suffered a jaw injury.

Bec Rawlings (8-9) - Splitting her time between MMA and bare knuckle boxing, Rawlings had her last Bellator outing in February of last year, earning a decision win over Elina Kallionidou. MMAFighting notes that according to a source she is still in negotiations with BKFC.

Heather Hardy (2-2) - Hardy’s last MMA fight was in June of 2019 in a losing effort against Taylor Turner, and she returned to boxing shortly thereafter.

Tywan Claxton (6-3) - Claxton turned down a hefty paycheck to pursue an MMA career after an extraordinary start that saw him blaze through competition and end up 5-0. He was then paired against Emmanuel Sanchez, who handed him his first pro loss. He then went on to go 1-2 after that and is now a free agent. Here’s hoping he gets another major offer in the tech sector if he decides to stop fighting.

Tyree Fortune (5-1) - This is a head-scratcher. The light heavyweight won his first two Bellator fights and suffered a submission loss against Grant Neal this past May. Pulling the plug a bit early on someone they might have been interested in building on, but that’s the fight game.

John Teixeira (23-6, 2 draws) - With a Bellator run that saw him go 7-4 (plus an additional loss in RIZIN during that time), Macapá is now on the outside. After his stints in Ultimate Fighter Brazil and Shooto Brazil, he seemed like a good fit for Bellator’s featherweight division. At age 34 and with a career that goes back to 2007, he’s looking long in the tooth. It’s entirely possible his contract just expired and there’s a lack of interest in retaining him.

Khonry Gracie (2-2) - Son of Royce Gracie, he suffered a pretty hard loss last November. With his name and lineage, he could easily rebuild and resume his career elsewhere. Or he may not even need MMA at all, but he’s got avenues moving forward.

Amanda Bell (7-8) - After her last bout back in June, Bell suffered back to back losses to put he Bellator record at 3-4. Bell had some wild moments during her tenure there.

Alessio Sakara (20-13) - The Italian striker capped his Bellator run with a win over Canaan Grigsby, but that was back in 2019. His fight prior to that was a very concerning knockout loss to Kent Kaupinnen. He ends his Bellator tenure at 4-2 under their banner.

Demarques Jackson (11-6) - Jackson had a one-off with Bellator back in 2018 before returning to LFA, then returned to the fold earlier this year and going 0-2.

Chuck Campbell (2-1) - Another head-scratcher. An AKA light heavyweight that can crack and has some room to grow? He last fought in 2019 in a losing effort against the aforementioned Tyree Fortune, would have been nice to see him brought along and developed. Oh, well.

Olga Rubin (6-2) - After three straight wins to start her time in Bellator, she dropped two straight against heavy hitters Sinead Kavanagh and then-champion Julia Budd. Both were in 2019, and she has not fought since.

Dominic Mazzotta (15-3) - Mazzotta went 2-2 in Bellator and then went and got a fight outside of the organization... all the way back in 2019. After that he was scheduled to fight Patchy Mix, Keith Lee and Leandro Higo. Problem is that he withdrew from all three bouts.

Mike Jasper (13-6) - Jasper bandied about on the Midwest scene and made his way to Bellator, but went 0-2 after being tossed to the wolves against Andrey Koreshkov. That was followed by a loss to Johnny Cisneros.

Kirill Sidelnikov (12-6) - Baby Fedor failed to make an impact after arriving fresh off his Fight Nights Global stint, going 1-1 and being another fighter that last fought for Bellator in 2019.

Ryan Spillane (10-9 amateur) - After winning the IAMMAF heavyweight championship, Irish talent Spillane signed with Bellator and never fought for them. He has yet to make his professional debut.

Steve MacDonald (4-0) - MacDonald got signed last year, but never fought for Bellator.

Best wishes to all released parties, and there’s a good chance that a fair number of them will pop up elsewhere before long.