Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bellator finally releases all female fighters

It was announced today that Bellator has released Jessica Aguilar, Jessica Eye and Felice Herrig. This means there are no more female fighters in Bellator. Felice has already signed with Invicta and I expect Jessica Eye to sign with the UFC sooner rather than later. So after Bellator did the 115lb tournament in 2010, they announced plans to do a 125lb tournament. But Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said in 2011 that he wanted some of the 115lb fighters to fight at 125. There aren't enough 125lb fighters? I wrote about this in Oct. 2011 and I thought it was a feeble attempt to try a save a few bucks and it probably wasn't going to work. He wasn't pulling this crap on male fighters so why do it to women? Two problems came up. He asked 115lb fighter Jessica Aguilar to fight at 125 and she refused. And then Zoila Gurgel blew out her knee. He continued to say he had plans to do another women's tournament. In Apr. 2013, Rebney finally admitted that Bellator had no plans to do a women's tournament. He admitted to Marc Raimondi of the New York Post that Jessica Aguilar's refusal to fight at 125 was the main reason. Both Jessica and Felice Herrig were on the Bellator prelims that night. Of course women's MMA fans always complained about women's matches on the prelims. Look, I'm sure Bellator treated the girls very well when they were there. But it became clear that Bellator did not want to spend the money to promote women that they spend to promote men. They weren't as supportive as they claimed. You can't just talk the talk. You gotta walk the walk. And Rebney didn't put his money where his mouth is. Look, not all fighters want to jump weight classes. To use Jessica Aguilar's refusal to fight at 125 as an excuse to not do a 125lb tournament is lame. And I want to emphasize that it's an excuse, not a reason. It just means they never really wanted to do a 125lb tournament because they could have done one anyway. There are certainly enough fighters. With the UFC adding women and Invicta starting up, Bellator's window of opportunity to promote women's MMA is over. It became clear over the last few months that female fighters saw Bellator as a dead end and wouldn't work for them anymore. It was time to come clean and let contracted fighters loose. It's a shameful end as Bellator could have and should have done more with women's MMA.

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