Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bellator MMA recently signed away from the UFC an exciting fighter who turned pro at 16. That of course was Rory MacDonald.

Now an exciting Bellator MMA fighter who turned pro at 16 just announced he has signed with the UFC. No, MacDonald did not change his mind. Instead, the UFC has signed “the prodigy of Polish MMA” Marcin Held.

Held is a phenomenal grappler, who started BJJ at nine, and was promoted to black belt at 21, becoming the youngest black belt in his native Poland. He took bronze at the 2010 ADCC Submission Wrestling European Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, and gold at both the 2011 FILA Grappling European Championships and 2010 IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu European Championships.

Held has 12 submissions, six via leg lock, and four knockouts, among his 22 wins. He is currently on a 7-1 run, with the sole loss being in a title shot vs. Will Brooks, who also recently signed with the UFC. Held bounced back from that loss with a win over Dave Jansen avenging a 2013 decision loss.

“I want to announce that I am officially the UFC fighter!,” he wrote on his social network. “I hope you like this change and you will watch my next fights. Thanks for everyone who kept fingers crossed. I start climbing to the top!”

He also directed his Polish fans to continue to watch his fights on Extreme Sports Channel Polska.

Held has long competed at lightweight, but in a 2009 profile in Sherdog when he was just 17 said he would drop to 145 if the right opportunity presented itself. There is no word from the UFC when he will debut, where he will debut, or who he will debut against.

The signing of Held is a curious reversal from the predicted path for the two companies. Bellator was expected to bring up young, developing talent, while the UFC held onto already known, developed fighters.

However, the pattern may be reversed, with Bellator adding amazing new life to careers like UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz (went out 1-7-1 in UFC), UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar (went out 3-3), UFC Hall of Famer Ken Shamrock (2-7) and UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie (3-2-3 since ’95). Those four have put on wildly popular fights in Bellator MMA.

If the UFC continues to sign the hungry, exciting, white hot prospects, it could be good for everyone.