How far do you think Bellator will continue to progress by the end of 2017 in terms of strengthening their roster and having more top ten fighters and relevant fights, and are you in favor of that or against that?
MIKE HISCOE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think Bellator will continue to add fighters at the upper level if the mid-tier throughout 2017, especially as new UFC management continues to unimpress current fighters. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Rory MacDonald or Benson Henderson types make the jump, but don’t expect any top level names to move unless Bellator is able to establish themselves on pay-per-view, which doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. I have no problem if this trend continues as it keeps healthy competition alive for fighter salaries, but the types of fighters who are jumping, while talented, have tended to have had their UFC title aspirations dashed just before leaving.
MATT ECHOCHARD, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
By the end of 2017 I think Bellator only gets another three ranked fighters from the UFC at most. They seem to have snuck a few bigger names away in Rory MacDonald and Benson Henderson, but most fighters will just use it as a bargaining chip to get the UFC to cough up more cash. For the fighters who go over to Bellator, it is a chance for them to sign up and try to raise their stock in order to try to return to the UFC if they so please. In the case of those two fighters so far, they get shots at the Bellator belts and a pay increase, so it is very good for them regardless of the opponent pool they can select from.
ADAM TINDAL, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
I think Bellator should nix their MMA promotion and devote solely to kickboxing. Call me crazy, but I just don’t want to watch MMA that’s not the UFC. When Bellator has exceptional fighters compete, and they do have many on hand, I just want them to move on to the UFC. Kickboxing is an entirely different avenue that could put them in a position to rival Glory and bring more attention to that sport. Simply wishful thinking, I know.
FRANK HYDEN, MMATORCH COLUMNIST
I’m always in favor of competition. I think that strengthens brands and makes them better. Having a monopoly makes brands weak and lazy. That’s why the UFC does some of the things they do, because they can and it doesn’t hurt them that much. I want Bellator to sign more and more big name talent and I want them to stop with doing so much sideshow stuff. I want them to succeed. I want Bellator to surpass the UFC. I want them competing. I would love to see a true sports league, a la the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc., where the UFC and Bellator are essentially combined and there’s only one professional MMA league. That would be a league where the fighters aren’t being bent over in terms of pay, at least ideally. To me, competition is always better. It’s certainly preferable to the alternative.
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