Bellator MMA has itself another coveted grappler to add to its stable of prospects: Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace and Conor McGregor training partner Dillon Danis.
Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole was first to report the news of Danis' signing on Monday.
Born in Parsippany Hills, N.J., the 23-year-old Danis now trains out of New York City and is a BJJ black belt under grappling legend Marcelo Garcia. Danis rose to grappling prominence in 2014, winning his 181-pound weight class at the International BJJ Federation (IBJJF) World Championships as a brown belt, as well as taking his weight class and the absolute brown belt division at the No-Gi World Championships.
More recently, Danis has become known in the MMA world for his role as a coach and training partner for Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight king Conor McGregor. “The Notorious” Irishman recruited Danis to join his training camp ahead of his UFC 202 rematch with Nate Diaz last August.
“I want to fight the best, just like Conor does,” Danis told Iole. “We’re different people, though we’re very like-minded. We set high goals and we aren’t afraid to try to achieve. I feel he’s the best ever, in my opinion, and so if people want to compare us, well, how could it be bad if you’re a basketball player to be compared to Michael Jordan? That’s essentially what people would be saying if they compare us.
Danis, despite being a peso medio jiu-jitsu competitor at 181 pounds, said that he will begin his career at 170 pounds, but could eventually move down to lightweight. He expects to debut before the year's end for Bellator.
The Danis signing follows the recent trend in Bellator MMA's talent recruitment under Scott Coker. Since taking the Bellator helm in June 2014, Coker has focused on signing stellar grapplers ahead of their professional debuts, most notably wrestling standouts Joey Davis, Tyrell Fortune, Aaron Pico, Ed Ruth and Jarod Trice (online betting).