In an attempt to jumpstart his stalled mixed martial arts career and reclaim his personal goals after recent legal troubles, former Strikeforce heavyweight Brett Rogers has signed with Bellator, the promotion confirmed on Tuesday.
He'll make his debut at Bellator 71 on June 22, though an opponent for him has yet to be finalized.
The 31-year-old Rogers has faced some tough times of late, having lost four of his last six after starting his career a perfect 10-0. He also was arrested twice within the last year, once for an assault stemming from a domestic incident with his wife, and the other for failure to comply with the conditions of his pre-sentencing release.
In a statement released through Bellator, Rogers claimed those legal and personal issues are now behind him.
"Over the past year I have been challenged in my personal life, but all is now good in the Rogers family," he said. "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."
The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder shot to fame in the MMA world as a Cinderella story, working as a tire changer at a Sam's Club in his home state of Minnesota while making a name for himself with his knockout power. Each one of his first 10 wins came via stoppage.
His career reached its apex in June 2009 when he knocked out Andrei Arlovski in just 22 seconds, vaulting him into the heavyweight top 10. His stay, however, was short-lived, however, as he would be KO'd by Fedor Emelianenko and routed by Alistair Overeem in subsequent matchups.
While he rebounded with a win over Ruben Villareal in October 2010, he dropped two straight, losing fights to Josh Barnett and Eddie Sanchez, before fighting to a no contest with Todd Allee due to illegal strikes to the back of the head.
Bellator acknowledged Rogers' recent "downward spiral" but CEO Bjorn Rebney noted that he's corresponded with Rogers' management for months before offering him the opportunity.
"... 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," he said.