Shawn Bunch File Photo
“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 >>
It hasn’t been all sunshine and lollipops for Rory MacDonald since he signed with Bellator in the summer of 2016.Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos read news >>
Goiti Yamauchi doesn’t mind that he was dismissive of his opponent’s skills before Bellator 183. He spoke his truth, then proved it.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
Injuries continue to plague Muhammed Lawal, this time forcing him out of his Bellator 185 co-main event bout with Liam McGeary.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
A change has been made to the upcoming Bellator 185 card on Oct. 20 as 'King' Mo Lawal has been forced out of his co-main event fight against Liam McGeary with an undisclosed injury. Bellator officia read news >>
For more on the numbers behind Friday’s Bellator 184 fight card, check out 20 pre-event facts.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
Featherweight Weston Wilson was 17 when his dad moved the family to Brazil. It wasn’t your average relocation – his dad worked for the DEA.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
It didn’t take long for Bellator to find a replacement opponent to step in against former champion Liam McGeary at Bellator 185.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>
On October 6 in Thackerville, Oklahoma, Pat Curran (22-7) takes on John Teixeira (21-2-2) in a main card 145-pound bout at Bellator 184. read news >>
Emmanuel Sanchez looks to pick up his third straight win when he takes on former champ Daniel Straus in the Bellator 184 co-main event on Friday. read news >>
At Bellator 184, Daniel Straus will stand across the cage from someone other than Patricio Freire for the first time in more than two years.Filed under: Bellator, News read news >>