Well this is freakin’ bizarre. Bellator announced today that it has named UFC pioneer Royce Gracie as its official brand ambassador. As part of his role, Gracie “will host seminars, be involved in autograph and promotional appearances, as well as aiding in the International expansion of Bellator around the world.”
Gracie becomes the fourth UFC Hall of Famer to be hired by Bellator/Viacom in some capacity, following fighters Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar*, and Fight Master/Gym Rescue personality** Randy Couture. Here’s the full press release via Bellator.com:
“The Godfather of MMA” Joins Bellator As Royce Gracie Becomes Promotional Brand Ambassador
Newport Beach, Calif. (October 8, 2014) – Known simply as the pioneer of mixed martial arts, Royce Gracie is widely considered the most influential and important figure the sport has seen. Engaging in some of the most memorable fights in MMA history during his time with the UFC and PRIDE Fighting Championships, Gracie has now joined Bellator as an official brand ambassador for the Viacom-owned promotion.
“I have known Scott for a long time and have always respected him as not only a promoter but as a martial artist who has always treated fighters with respect and truly understands their value,” Gracie said. “Bellator and Viacom want to give fans exciting fights and enable fighters to continue to grow and most importantly provide for their family, and it’s something I want to be a part of. UFC has done a great job over the past twenty years in building this sport and taking it globally and I’m glad to have been part of that, but Bellator is a growing organization I am honored to be a part of, and with the dedicated and talented people already associated with the company, we can further the growth of mixed marital arts as a sport worldwide.”