Bellator MMA has firmly established itself as the number two mixed martial arts promotion in the industry. As it works to maintain that position, one of the efforts that President Bjorn Rebney works hard to maintain is that the organization will not sign fighters who were “cast off” from the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Well, that stance may have softened much over the last few months and Bellator 101 is a prime example of such.
Three of the top four fights on Friday's bill feature fighters who were once members of the UFC roster. Marcus Davis, Rich Clementi and John Alessio will all appear on the card. Outside of Davis, none of these individuals were never major names in the UFC, but they may be recognizable to the hardcore fan which could draw some extra interest to the card. Alessio and Davis will make their debut while Clementi steps in the circle cage for the second time.
John Alessio is an individual that holds an interesting resume during his time of employment with Zuffa. With a 5-6 record as a Zuffa employee he had the opportunity of fighting Diego Sanchez, Carlos Condit, Thiago Alves and others as he bounced back and forth before the UFC and WEC. At 34 years of age and with 51 total professional fights, its true that his best days are behind him, but he can still have a flare for the dramatics due to his finishing skills.
Clementi was a tough lightweight while a part of the UFC but was never able to make it to main event status. He is probably best known for his rivalry with Melvin Guillard in 2007 which resulted in the two nearly fighting two times in the cage after Rich had tapped Melvin in the first round of their bout. He had a decent 7-4 record while in the Octagon with his best wins over Guillard, Anthony Johnson and Terry Etim.
Cut from the UFC in 2011, Marcus Davis has been fairing pretty well for himself now that he is out from under the Zuffa banner. He was once considered a top welterweight contender after putting together six straight wins but that was before running into Mike Swick back in 2008. His overall UFC record was 9-5 with signature wins over Chris Lytle, Shonie Carter and Pete Spratt.
While Bellator MMA has said that they won't sign fighters who are cut from the UFC, it seems as if they will make exceptions for those who have spent time outside of the Octagon. However, do not be fooled as the promotion will surely highlight that experience at some point during the broadcast. It would be best for them to hope that these individuals come in and put on great fights in defeat to their home grown prospects. This will give Bellator MMA the opportunity to add some legitimacy to their fighters in a sense, while building their star power slowly.
Bellator 101 may not feature a title fight or any other major names outside of Joe Warren, but for those MMA fans who were watching the sport before and during the early phase of its growth John Alessio, Rich Clementi and Marcus Davis may be worth a watch on Friday.