Nazareno Malegarie, who has built up a 19-0 record while fighting for Brazilian promotions, is now ready to fight in the United States, Bellator announced Monday.
"I'm just very excited to finally have the chance to show fans in the United States what I'm capable of," Malegarie said in a statement. "Signing with Bellator was very important for me, and I'm ready to prove myself."
According to Sherdog, Malegarie's 19-0 record is the best among active fighters. There are 25 active fighters with undefeated records and at least 10 fights, but most are known to only the hardest of hard-core fans. The handful of well-known fighters with undefeated records include the 17-0 Strikeforce lightweight Lyle Beerbohm and the 12-0 UFC light heavyweight Ryan Bader.
Malegarie hasn't faced particularly tough opposition, so his 19-0 record is somewhat suspect: Four of his last seven fights have come against opponents with losing records.
But the Bellator featherweight tournament won't be easy for Malegarie. The other seven participants (Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, Wilson Reis, Daniel Straus, Georgi Karakhanyan, Zac George, Kenny Foster and Eric Larkin) would all be a step up in competition for him. If Malegarie can get through that gauntlet, he'd face Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren. So by the end of 2011, no one can say Malegarie hasn't faced anyone of note.
And if Malegarie is still undefeated at the end of 2011, he'll have to be considered one of the truly elite featherweights in the sport.