(Man, 2009, right? Crazy times. / Image via City Pages)
Bellator sent out a press release this morning announcing that they’ve signed struggling slugger Brett Rogers, who will make his promotional debut at Bellator 71, June 22nd in Chester, West Virginia. “I am incredibly thankful to Bjorn Rebney and Bellator for giving me and my family this opportunity,” Rogers said. “I feel that I am still one of the top heavyweights in the sport and now I have the opportunity to prove it with Bellator. I love the tournament format as it will give me the chance to regain my top position, of course with a lot hard work.”
Rogers’s opponent for the June 22nd card hasn’t been announced yet, but his tournament ambitions will have until this fall; Bellator 71 is slated to host the quarterfinals of their 2012 Summer Series Light-Heavyweight tournament, featuring Travis Wiuff, Zelg Galesic, and Richard Hale.
After starting his career with ten consecutive wins — all by strikes within the first two rounds — Rogers hit a dramatic rough patch in which he lost three straight fights under the Strikeforce banner, got arrested and convicted for beating up his wife, then dropped a split-decision to Eddie Sanchez at Titan FC 20. Most recently, Rogers fought a 2-1 gym-owner named Todd Allee to a no-contest at Donofrio Entertainment’s “My Bloody Valentine” show; in his attempt to finish Allee on the ground, Rogers landed an illegal blow to the back his opponent’s head that Allee wasn’t able to recover from.
As Rogers explains in the press release:
“Over the past year I have been challenged in my personal life, but all is now good in the Rogers family. Everyone makes mistakes in life but it’s how you recover that really counts. I spend every day with my wife and kids and enjoy every minute of it. Fighting is my job and I love it, but I also love my family and that’s why I made things right before returning to the cage. All I can say is get ready for a new and improved Brett Rogers.”
Added Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney:
“I was in Chicago the night Brett Rogers came within just a few punches of dethroning The Last Emperor on a worldwide stage and I watched early in his career when he was a KO machine. Brett’s management’s been talking to us for months about Brett. And, after talking to Brett at length, I think this could be the type of fresh start he needs to put his fighting career and other parts of his life back to where he hoped they would be.”
Rogers’s entry into Bellator could also add some much-needed name value to a thin heavyweight roster that hasn’t exactly captured the imaginations of MMA fans and is becoming a dumping ground for disgraced former Zuffa prospects. Can Da Grim recapture some of his old magic on a smaller stage, now that his personal troubles are behind him? Or will he get smacked down as soon as he rises to the top of the Bellator food chain?