It was a move first rumoured last week, and considered so outlandish that almost no MMA media outlet bothered to cover it: UFC Hall of Fame member Stephan Bonnar was set to sign with Bellator MMA and take on former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz. The rumour was apparently traced back to FrontRowBrian on Twitter, who has broken some legit news before, but who is not exactly known as a credible source either.
Well, he was right on the money with this one. Bellator announced today that the American Psycho will indeed make his MMA against the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.
It’s a fight that will definitely draw. Spike TV can easily expect over a million viewers with Ortiz vs. Bonnar, but is this an indication of what the Scott Coker era of Bellator will entail? If so, the longevity of the promotion is really called into question. While the Bellator tournament format saw its scant resources spread thin, relying on the names of yesteryear turns Bellator into a senior’s circuit and eliminates any credibility they had (and rest assured, they had some) as a legitimate sports promotion in the eyes of the fans.
As with the signing of Melvin Manhoef, Bonnar seems to have been picked up for name recognition only, as it’s unlikely Coker and company expect him to have any real upside as a competitor in the organization. He was last seen being decimated by Anderson Silva back in 2012, after all, and embarrassing himself by testing positive for steroids in the process.
On the plus side, this could be a fun fight for the fans, and neither Bonnar nor Ortiz would really be hurt by a loss to the other. Ortiz does have a bit of momentum right now after winning his Bellator MMA debut over Alexander Shlemenko, the organization’s middleweight champion, in a non-title fight at Bellator 120. It appears Dana White has also given his blessing to the Bonnar-Bellator marriage, so as long as he’s playing nice, it seems like we’ll be spared any potential drama between the promotions.
All in all, the news sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone, and it seems to be par for the course in the Coker-led Bellator era as the promotion shifts from sport to spectacle.