As it continues to carve out a niche for itself as the No. 2 promotion in mixed martial arts, Bellator has once again signed a fighter who's big on talent and capable of bringing a great deal of excitement into the cage in former Olympic wrestling bronze medalist Alexis Vila.
Before we get into all the reasons Vila is an exciting addition to Bellator's bantamweight tournament, let's get the two big problems out of the way ...
1. He's old: He turned 40 in March.
2. He's tiny: In the Olympics he wrestled at 105 pounds and most recently fought in MMA at 125 pounds.
When a guy is 40 years old and signing on to fight much bigger competition, there's a ceiling to how much he can achieve. But Vila, who wrestled for Cuba in the 1996 Olympics, has undeniable talent. He's 9-0 in his MMA career and is a hard puncher who has finished eight of his nine opponents. As the video above shows, Vila is absolutely vicious with ground and pound.
"I feel like I'm the best bantamweight in the world right now," Vila said in a statement. "I have everything. I have all the training and all the tools. People don't even know. Nobody has the stand-up that I have, the wrestling I have, or the strength that I have."
Vila is signing on for a bantamweight tournament that's scheduled to start in September and should include an impressive array of talent: Others in the tournament field include Eduardo Dantas, Chase Beebe, Marcos Galvao, Luis Nogueira, Ed West and Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren, who will drop down to bantamweight.
Whether Bellator can take that talent and turn it into a compelling bantamweight tournament that will draw interest beyond the hardest of hard-core MMA fans remains to be seen.