In Signing Wrestling Champ Shawn Bunch, Bellator Listened to King Mo, Ben Askren


  • Share on Tumblr
  • submit to reddit

Shawn Bunch File Photo

Shawn Bunch has never fought in MMA, but Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney jumped at the chance to sign the standout wrestler after hearing high praise from fellow Bellator competitors Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Ben Askren.

“Basically it boils down to my trust of King Mo and Ben Askren and their read on a guy and his ability to mature in our sport very quickly because of his skill set, his athleticism, his heart, et cetera,” Rebney told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “Both of them called me on this kid. When he got the bad decision in New York in Times Square and didn’t end up making the Olympic team -- he was legitimately a medal hopeful for this country -- they both reached out, literally within about a half hour, and said this kid has got amazing potential and he’s hugely driven and his athleticism and his quickness, his explosiveness is something we haven’t seen before in those lower weight divisions.”

Bellator announced the signing of Bunch on Monday. He is a former U.S. National champion in freestyle wrestling, but he’s also been training in MMA, where he is expected to compete at 135 pounds.

“You’re talking about a world-class athlete,” Rebney said. “You’re talking about a guy who has competed at the very, very highest level in a sport that I think we can all agree makes the most seamless transition into mixed martial arts.”

Wrestlers have had plenty of success in Bellator. Askren is one example: A former U.S. Olympian, he joined the promotion with just three fights under his belt, has gone undefeated and is the current welterweight champion. Of course, Bunch has not fought even once.

“We’ve got a developmental process,” Rebney said. “We’ve got about 25 events next year. We thought we’d team up with Shawn and try to develop him as opposed to waiting for him to get four or five fights under his resume and see where he is from there. … The consensus opinion was this guy’s got the opportunity to be something really explosive in short order. You try to put that [Michael] Chandler-Askren model in place and see if he can actually do it that quick. We’ll see. We’ll all get to watch it unfold together.”

Bunch is expected to make a quick rise, but Bellator doesn’t plan on debuting him on national television.

“He’ll be part of a Spike.com show here and there,” Rebney said. “He’ll get developmental bouts on undercards. We’re not going to take Shawn and suddenly throw him in against Eduardo Dantas, but the development is going to be there. … We’ll get to see it on Spike.com, and then when the time’s right, we’ll make that jump to Spike network. … We’re going to take nice, slow, methodical steps to develop him underneath this banner. Hopefully what we come out with is a Ben Askren, we come out with a Mike Chandler, we come out with a Pat Curran. [Hopefully] that’s the maturation he follows, but we’ll all see whether it succeeds or doesn’t.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 17:03).

view original article >>

Related News

  • 15 days ago
  • 24 views

Bellator MMA is going all-in for its head-to-head showdown with the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Sept. 5. read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 170 views

Rampage says Bjorn did not live up to his end of the bargain when it came to his knee surgery, plus if the King Mo feud will ever end and if a fight with Tito Ortiz is in the future. read news >>

  • a day ago
  • 9 views

King Mo is still not happy with Bjorn Rebney or Rampage, and nothing is going to change his mind on either of them. read news >>

  • 25 days ago
  • 4014 views

I blame the wild hogs. Former Bellator welterweight champion and current ONE FC headliner, Ben Askren, was in town over Fourth of July Weekend and made a stop by The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale, which took place on July 6, 2014, inside Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada (results here). And that's about as close to the Octagon as "Funky" can get. That's because the "bald man" was uninterested in signing the talented mat rat, which is unfortunate, considering Askren -- a 2008 Oly read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 61 views

The week's most interesting bits from the MMA and UFC twitter world. A few updates on what's been going on in the MMA & UFC Twitterverse -- There's a ton of tweets below, but first, don't forget to follow me on twitter and instagram: @antontabuena Oh, and these guys are probably worth following as well: The Official BloodyElbow Twitter Account, Kid Nate, Brent Brookhouse, Richard Wade, Chris Barton, D.E.O, Scott Broussard, Matt Bishop, Fraser Coffeen, Dallas Winston, KJ Gould, Ben Thapa, T.P. Gr read news >>

  • 15 days ago
  • 49 views

If you thought Bellator MMA was just going to roll over on Sept. 5, you better think again. Bellator MMA is not going down without a fight. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) scheduled its upcoming UFC Fight Night 50 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on FOX Sports 1 from the Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Ledyard, Conn., the same night Spike TV airs its Bellator 123 fight card at Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville. And both promotions are bringing their A game for the Friday night face off. T read news >>

  • 15 days ago
  • 61 views

Bellator 123 lands at the Mohegan Sun on Sept. 5, featuring Pat Curran, Patricio Pitbull Freire, King Mo Lawal, Cheick Kongo and Bobby Lashley. read news >>

  • 15 days ago
  • 27 views

Bellator is bringing out its big guns for September 5th's unofficial battle for Connecticut. In an effort to keep pace with UFC Fight Night 50, Bellator officials announced on Wednesday that Bellator 123 will be highlighted by the returns of both Cheick Kongo and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, as well as the promotional debut of Bobby Lashley. As previously announced, the event is headlined by a featherweight championship rematch between Pat Curran and Patricio Freire. "I've been wanting this rematch read news >>

  • 15 days ago
  • 34 views

In addition to a previously announced title fight, September’s Bellator 123 event has added some notable names to the fight card.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>