At first, Bellator didn’t want Brett
He was a former top-10 heavyweight who had fought Fedor
Emelianenko and beaten Andrei
Arlovski, but he was also sentenced to 60 days in jail last
September after pleading guilty to a felony count of third-degree
assault following a domestic dispute.
It was the type of baggage that many fight promotions refuse to
deal with. Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney also refused, but Rogers’
management kept calling.
“His management came at us literally for a two-and-a-half-month
period and set the foundation,” Rebney told the Sherdog
Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “They laid the groundwork and
told us everything there was to know about him, about what he’d
done, about what he had tried to do in terms of seeking forgiveness
from his family, where he was working, how he had stayed out of
harm’s way or bad situations, how he was literally getting up every
morning at 2 a.m. to deliver papers because he didn’t want to work
as a bouncer at a club or do other things that might put him in
Rebney came around, signing Rogers earlier this month, but picking
up the heavyweight was a process.
“It was literally months, and the initial reaction was no
interest,” Rebney said. “And then the next reaction was really not
interested. And then as his management continued to come at us,
what can we do? He’s with his wife. They’ve gone through extensive
counseling. He’s with his kids. He loves his family. He is trying
desperately to get his life back on track. This is what he can do
to make a living.”
As well as Rogers’ management had done their job, Rebney still
needed to talk to the fighter.
“I had the opportunity to do that and get kind of an in-depth
analysis of the story from him, and from that made a decision,”
Rebney said. “Is it the right decision? The future will tell
whether or not it’s the right decision. Will he make a mistake
again on some front? Again, that’s not something that I can
control, but given the totality of the circumstances and the
conversations that I had with him and with his management, I did
feel that we were willing to give him an opportunity that others
were obviously not willing to give him.”
Rogers makes his Bellator debut Friday against Kevin
Asplund, who enters the fight with a 15-1 record. A year after
his arrest, Rogers is getting another chance and now he’ll have to
deliver inside and outside the cage.
“I was raised by folks who talked to me a lot about forgiveness,”
Rebney said. “I’m not in any way condoning what he did by any
stretch of the imagination, but he seems to be in a place where
another opportunity was warranted, and we gave it to him. Let’s see
how it plays itself out.”
Listen to the full
interview (beginning at 17:03).