Whether the Bellator Fighting Championships can carve out a niche for itself and survive in the UFC-dominated world of American mixed martial arts is an open question. But there's no question at all that Bellator continues to sign talented fighters.
Heavyweight Tony Johnson
is the latest acquisition to demonstrate just how good Bellator is at attracting top fighters: Bellator formally announced Thursday that Johnson has signed, and that he'll fight the 4-0 Carlos Flores at Bellator 41 on April 16.
"Tony is a fighter we have had our eye on for quite some time," Bellator boss Bjorn Rebney
said. "He's one of the top heavyweight prospects in the world right now, and will make a great addition to our already impressive heavyweight lineup."
Calling Johnson one of the top heavyweight prospects in the world isn't just a promoter's hyperbole: The 25-year-old Johnson is 5-1 in his MMA career, with the only loss coming to Strikeforce's Daniel Cormier. He's an outstanding athlete, has a good wrestling background, and Bloody Elbow just called him the No. 3 heavyweight prospect in MMA
Johnson said he's already eying a shot at Bellator's heavyweight champion, Cole Konrad.
"I definitely want to be a part of the next Bellator Heavyweight Tournament," Johnson said. "I think it would be a great opportunity for me. It would mean everything to me to become the next Bellator heavyweight champion. ... I plan on getting better and better every time I enter that cage."
With young heavyweights like Johnson and Konrad, who are already good and getting better, it's hard not to like the future of Bellator, in terms of the quality of the fighters in the cage. The only question is whether we should like the future of Bellator in terms of the ability of the promotion to draw TV audiences, attract ticket buyers and make enough money to stay in business.