Rugby star James Haskell’s signing to Bellator was met with notable enthusiasm, but the former English international’s announcement that he would be taking part in the U.K. reality TV show I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! was not greeted with the same optimism.
Haskell is currently taking part in the reality series that pits a number of celebrities together in the Australian jungle. The celebrities take on challenges known as “bushtucker trials” to secure additional food, treats, and to avoid being voted out by viewers during their stay. The last celebrity standing is crowned Jungle King or Queen.
Speaking after Bellator London on Saturday night, Head of Bellator Europe Dave Green gave his thought on the soon-to-be MMA heavyweight and underlined that Haskell being a cast member on the show could result in more people tuning in for his debut.
“You look at someone like James, we didn’t sign James Haskell for—He wasn’t the biggest MMA prospect; he’s a personality and a big personality at that. He had a lot of work booked, he was DJ’ing in Ibiza, he had lots of different things going on - he’s a public person, he’s got a public profile,” Green told the gathered media.
“As for [I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!], he’ll be there for three weeks and it’s not like he’s getting drunk every night. The only thing we’re worried about is that he might come back as a middleweight with the food rations out there. But you’ve got to respect James as an athlete - he’s an elite athlete and I’ve never seen anyone take something as seriously as this. You’ve got to respect his preparation, I guarantee when the guy steps foot in the cage he will be 100 percent prepared, I’ve no doubt about that. He’s got to do his public thing this week, he’s been training right up until the day he went in there, and I’m sure he’ll be well prepared when he steps in there.”
Green seems to think that Haskell’s appearance on the reality TV show can only help Bellator, as they signed the rugby star to bring more eyes to the sport.
“I’d like to think [Haskell being on a reality television show is a good thing],” he said.
“We signed him for lots of reasons – there’s a PR angle there. It’s all about bringing new eyeballs to the sport. The fact that James is still only 34, he’s got a lot of time and he’s really excited about fighting. If he brings in another hundred thousand viewers because of the Jungle—he was already quite a big star before he went into the Jungle from his rugby career—if he’s brought in more people interested in seeing what he’s doing it’s not a bad thing.”
Dave Green’s post Bellator London comments feature at 1:37:00 of Eurobash.