Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) pioneer and longtime face of jiu-jitsu, Royce Gracie, caused a minor disturbance in the force when he announced last week that Bellator MMA acquired his services as mixed martial arts (MMA) brand ambassador.
But it was not an attack on UFC.
Instead, it was a major combat sports promotion recognizing his value and using the Gracie name to help break new ground in what is quickly becoming a crowded marketplace, thanks to the growth of rival promotions like World Series of Fighting (WSOF), ONE Fighting Championship (ONE FC), and more.
Gracie breaks it down for MMA Fighting:
"I don't think they made this offer to somehow attack the UFC. They see my value, and invited me to be their ambassador. The UFC was my home and will always be my home. I helped creating and building that home. Now, Bellator is a relatively new organization, and I'm here to help them grow even more. It's always good to have more promotions, give more fighters work. You have tons of talents everywhere you go, so you can't be stuck to only one promotion. I'm here to help Bellator grow."
So I guess he won't be running with this Wolfpack.
Bellator has been scooping up UFC hall-of-fame fighters over the last few years and using them for different endeavors. Some of them, like former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar, will be used as headlining attractions while others, like Randy Couture, will be featured on original programming.