(Photo via Bellator.com)
For such a respectful, soft-spoken guy, Bellator President Scott Coker has absolutely no problem firing dudes by the dozen. In June, he slashed 19 jobs just a week after joining the organization. And now, 13 more Bellator fighters have been released, as MMAFighting confirmed yesterday evening. Here they are, in order of most surprising to least surprising…
Attila Vegh (5-1 in Bellator), who won the 2012 light heavyweight tournament, then became Bellator’s 205-pound champion with a decision win over Christian M’Pumbu in February 2013. In March of this year, he lost his title in a rematch against Emanuel Newton; Vegh and Newton now hold split-decision victories over each other. Vegh’s dismissal is kind of inexplicable. He’s one of the best light-heavyweights Bellator had under contract, and a rubber-match against Newton seemed like an obvious booking in the future. I don’t get it.
“Mighty Mo” Siliga (3-1 in Bellator), the 43-year-old kickboxing veteran who’s had an unexpected resurgence in Bellator since last year. Mo ended his first three fights in the promotion by stoppage — and proved he had some grappling skills too — but got knocked out by an Alexander Volkov head kick during the Season 10 heavyweight tournament semi-finals in April. Despite his age, Mo has always been a reliably entertaining presence and you’d think the new regime would want to keep him around.
Bryan Baker (8-4 in Bellator), a five-year veteran of the promotion who competed in four tournaments, reaching the Season 2 middleweight finals and Season 6 welterweight finals. Along the way, Baker defeated the likes of Ben Saunders, Joe Riggs, and Jeremy Horn. Baker lost his last two fights and hasn’t competed since February 2013.
Shahbulat Shamhalaev (3-2 in Bellator), won the Season 7 featherweight tournament with three consecutive KO/TKOs, then suffered back-to-back first-round stoppage losses to Pat Curran and Fabricio Guerreiro.
Desmond Green (3-2 in Bellator), a finalist in the Season 10 featherweight tournament who came up short against Daniel Weichel, losing by rear-naked choke at Bellator 119 in May.
Egidijus Valavicius (2-1 in Bellator), a Lithuanian journeyman who was a semi-finalist in the Season 10 light-heavyweight tournament.
Justin Torrey (2-1 in Bellator), who was knocked out of the Season 9 middleweight tournament quarterfinals by Brennan Ward last September.
Rodney “Sho Nuff the Master” Wallace (1-1 in Bellator), the light-heavyweight UFC vet who lost a decision to Kelly Anundson in the 2014 Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament quarterfinals in June.
Luis Sergio Melo Jr., aka Sergio Junior (1-1 in Bellator), who lost a decision to Ron Keslar at the Season 9 welterweight tournament quarterfinals last September.
Ron Sparks (3-3 Bellator), a heavyweight slugger who kicked off his Bellator stint with three straight first-round stoppages, then lost three straight fights in the first round — enough to earn his release fair and square.
Patrick Cenoble (0-1-1 Bellator), a lightweight who fought to a draw against Tony Fryklund before being outpointed by Terry Etim last November. Cenoble handled himself well against solid competition, but his lack of victories made him expendable.
Austen “Corndog” Heidlage (0-1 Bellator). Never heard of him, and I have to assume that his presence on the Bellator roster was the result of some clerical error.