As Bellator continues to modify their organizational framework, the decision has been made to jettison Women’s MMA entirely. The news emerged throughout the day on Tuesday, as one after another, each female under contract released the news that their promotional ties had been severed.
Bellator was one of the few mainstream mixed martial arts promotions to embrace women as a part of their organization. Strikeforce had already experienced the success of the Gina Carano era, and officials hoped they could match this level of interest. Non-title bouts were part of the programming from the get go, but in 2010 it was decided that season 3 of their tournament-style television series (at the time being broadcast by Fox Sports Net) would debut the strawweight (115 lb.) division. Zoila Frausto Gurgel was crowned the first champion, but would never actually defend the belt against anyone in her own weight class. The appearance of Invicta FC, and eventually the UFC on the WMMA scene made finding enticing talent difficult, and only 3 total women’s fights occurred in the promotion so far this year. Rebney finally called it quits in a press release made available yesterday evening:
“Jessica Eye, Jessica Aguilar and Felice (Herrig) represent all that is good in women’s MMA. Both Eye and Aguilar are ranked No. 1 in the world in their respective divisions and carry themselves with class and distinction elevating the women’s game. I’ve said many times that fighters need to fight and fight often. Given our current focus, we are not in position to provide these very deserving women regular and recurring fights on a large platform. And, I felt it was best to let them go and secure options that did.I genuinely wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and will be rooting for each of them wherever they fight.”
In closing their doors, Bellator is allowing the women that were under contract to field offers from other promotions. The UFC or Invicta are the likeliest destinations, and we will be sure to keep you up to date once these signings occur.