Last week, Bellator’s signing spree of highly touted prospects caught the attention of many MMA fans and media alike, but according to company president Scott Coker, it’s nothing new.

In recent weeks, Bellator has inked multiple LFA champions such as Jaleel Willis and Justin Gonzales, multiple CFFC champions in Shawn Teed and Justin Scoggins, and UFC veterans Brett Johns, Jeremy Kennedy, Rustam Khabilov, and Bobby Voelker.

The influx in signing well established prospects isn’t a pivot in philosophy, Coker said. It’s just a continuation of building on the foundation his regime began working on when they took over the promotion in late 2014.

“I don’t think this is anything new,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “We’ve always had a real good eye for the young talent. We’re out there recruiting from the day that I’ve got here, really. This roster looks nothing like it did back in 2015, let’s say. It’s a much different roster. It took time, and you know, it takes time to build talent. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve always said we’re going to build this company from the ground up through building the next blue chip prospects. Then we’re going to, from time to time, get free agents we feel can make an impact. That’s how we built this business and this roster. So it’s been like this from the very beginning.”

One signing Coker is particularly interested in, however, is Usman Nurmagomedov (11-0 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), cousin of UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Bringing the Nurmagomedov bloodline to Bellator has amplified all of the promotion’s other recent signings, Coker said.

“He’s not just a wrestler or jiu-jitsu talent on the ground,” Coker said. “The kid doesn’t get the respect he deserves in his stand-up game. His muay Thai is pretty good. His striking is great, and he’s well rounded. This kid has good experience, and I think he’ll go pretty quickly. He’ll get right in the mix. We’re definitely rebuilding our 155-pound weight class.”

Coker elaborated on Bellator’s recent uptick in signings, saying that he expects the roster to be cyclical going forward. Coker expects his roster to remain the same numbers-wise, although veterans and prospects could be released to bring in new ones. According to Coker, Bellator is taking a “football GM-like” approach to roster moves.

“I don’t know if we’re going to build the roster as far as numbers,” Coker said. “Maybe we don’t re-sign some of the blue chip prospects. Maybe we don’t re-sign these guys who have been fighting for a while. We still will need both, though, right? You still need both on the roster. As far as growth? No. You only can have so many fights on television that you can provide per year. I think we’re going to keep the roster levels the same. You talk about a good 250 athletes right now – and all over the world. We’re not looking to grow to 300 or 400 (fighters), but instead we’re trying to put the right fighters in there to keep.”

Check out Bellator’s full list of recent signings in the tweets below:





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