Saul Rogers has finally penned a deal with one of the world’s biggest promotions and hopes to debut under the Bellator banner early in 2018.
The Telegraph announced the UK standout’s signing recently, and it brought an end to two years of speculation regarding Rogers’ status with the UFC.
Back in 2015, “The Hangman” fought off four opponents to earn a place in the TUF 22 Finale against Artem Lobov.
Rogers would not make it to the fight. Ahead of the contest, Dana White claimed the Brit had “lied on his visa application” and Ryan Hall was brought in as replacement for him.
Although the outlook was grim at the time of his forced exit from the finale, many believed that Rogers was too good to turn down and expected him to pen a deal with the UFC at a later date.
According to Rogers, there was only so much time he was willing to wait and when Bellator offered him a deal he jumped at the chance of working with the promotion.
“Obviously, after TUF I was gutted about the whole situation,” Rogers told MMAFighting.com.
“I think for a long time I was holding out thinking that I deserved to be there and that I should be there, but you get to a certain point and you feel like you can’t keep holding out for a promotion to sign you. My life isn’t governed by whether I’m in the UFC or not, and it was at one time.”
After a couple of years of relative obscurity since TUF, Rogers views his new contract with Bellator as a “life-changing” moment in his career.
“When I think about it, it is a life-changing deal,” he said. “I think it allows me to give my family a lot more security. It should take away some of the stress I had with things outside of the cage after TUF.
“Bellator are paying well and they’re doing great things. I know they’re going to promote me well too. I really think if you and me have a chat in twelve months time we’re going to be looking at much a better situation for Saul Rogers. I really feel like this could be a life-changing deal with Bellator.”
Including his wins on TUF, Rogers held a 10-fight win streak over a five-year period until he recently picked up a second-round submission loss against Aurel Pirtea at ACB 54.
It seems strange that the Brit would be signed coming off a loss considering the considerable streak he had put together, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I could’ve signed with Bellator a few years ago, but at that time I didn’t think it was the best option for me. I signed a deal with ACB and my contract has only expired with that organization.
“In that sense, it’s not a surprise that I’m getting signed now because I’ve only recently become a free agent,” he explained.
“To be honest, I could go through a long list of reasons why that last fight didn’t go my way, but I won’t do that, I’m going to take that loss like a man.
“I really hope all of the Bellator featherweights are watching that performance and thinking that’s where I am now because I know I’m leagues above what I did that night. It was a bad night at the office, and my first loss in five years.
“Honestly, I’ve taken more from that loss than I have taken from any of my wins. That loss needed to happen for me to kick start a lot of other things in my career.
“After five years unbeaten and doing what I did on TUF, it’s not that I got complacent, but I was up against a lot and maybe I lost track of what I was doing and why I was doing it.”
Rogers initially expected to make his promotional debut at Bellator 191 in Newcastle, but wasn’t released from his ACB contract in time to compete. The Bolton native has now set his sights on making his bow at Bellator 194 in Connecticut.
“I was expecting to fight on the Newcastle card. I was ready to fight and I really felt as though I would have destroyed anyone they put me in there against. Unfortunately, I will still having some issues being released from my ACB contract,” Rogers said.
“I’ve carried on training over the Christmas and I’m looking to fight on the upcoming Connecticut card in February. That’s the card I’ve got my sights set on at the minute.”
Importantly, Bellator have also told Rogers they will help resolve his visa issues, which will allow him to compete in the U.S.
“As part of my deal with Bellator, they’ve agreed to help me sort out my visa issues. As you can imagine, I must’ve had 50 people trying to contact me saying they know how to sort it out ever since TUF,” he said.
“It’s been a big headache for me and I’ve never been the most hands-on when it comes to visas and different applications – I struggle to fill in documents for passports and driving licenses. The visa application is a lot more complex. It’s a very lengthy process.
“That’s sweetened the deal a lot for me. Bellator are willing to take me on, they’re willing to promote me and they’re willing to sort out my visa issues – that’s everything I could’ve asked for.
“It was no-brainer for me. I jumped all over the opportunity with Bellator.”