Son of UFC Co-Founder Joins Bellator
In a surprising move announced this morning, Bellator MMA has signed another member of the UFC-founding Gracie family to its roster. The last time a Gracie was in the rival organization’s cage, UFC 1 Tournament winner Royce Gracie edged out Ken Shamrock in controversial fashion.
Now, Ralek, son of UFC co-founder Rorion Gracie (and founder of the Metamoris jiu-jitsu promotion in his own right), has been signed to Bellator even without having had a fight in six years. He enters the promotion at 3-0 with two submissions in his favor. He last topped Kazushi Sakuraba as a part of Dream, the successor to the organization known as Hero’s and Japan’s elite Pride Fighting Championship.
Bellator officials expect Ralek to fight at middleweight and to debut at Bellator 170, headlined by former UFC fighters Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen, on January 21. Nothing has been locked in other that Gracie’s signing as they look for his first opponent.
In Gracie’s business life, Metamoris is in hot water after allegations of failing to pay combatants and “mishandling of customer credit card information” according to USA Today’s MMAJunkie.com.
Brothers Rener and Ryron Gracie wrote in an email,“Ralek has engaged in dishonest and fraudulent activity, and continues to do so despite our repeated efforts to guide him,” the email reads. “We have decided to terminate all business relations with Ralek and Metamoris.”
He responded by telling ESPN recently, “It’s a surreal thing, to answer questions about my brothers — and even trying to defend yourself is dishonorable in this kind of situation. We’re just doing the best we can, and I think there are some stuff behind the scenes that people don’t know about and shouldn’t know about. I really don’t like avoiding questions, but at the end of the day, I really don’t think it’s important or relevant in this circumstance. This [Bellator signing] is very exciting and I’m excited to compete.”
Gracie will debut as a Bellator competitor at the age of 31.