Bellator Announces Free Agent Signings Including Usman Nurmagomedov, Brett Johns

By Jay Pettry Oct 2, 2020

Bellator MMA is making some big moves lately.

On Friday, the promotion sent out a press release to announce that it had signed Usman Nurmagomedov (11-0), the cousin of Ultimate Fighting Championship star Khabib Nurmagomedov. This signing of the lightweight joins several other recent high-profile acquisitions from the California-based organization. ESPN reported that several UFC vets have joined the ranks including Brett Johns (17-2), along with Rustam Khabilov (24-4) and featherweight Jeremy Kennedy (15-2, 1 NC).

Nurmagomedov has yet to taste defeat as a professional, much like his cousin. Across his 11 career bouts, the Dagestan native has finished 10 of his opponents within two rounds. Competing three times in 2020 with knockouts of Svyatoslav Shabanov, Jerry Kvarnstrom and Ruslan Tuyakov, the promising prospect has rattled off ten of his wins since December 2018.

“The Pikey” left the UFC on a two-fight win streak over Montel Jackson and Tony Gravely this year. The winningest Welsh fighter in UFC history, Johns fought out of his contract and elected to test the free agent market. His last appearance in July, the Welshman was not on the shelf for long before being picked up. Like the other Bellator acquisitions, Johns does not currently have a debut set.

Khabilov will be fighting under a different banner for the first time since 2012. The lightweight fought 13 times for the promotion, winning ten including a decision over Jorge Masvidal. Along with Johns, Khabilov leaves the promotion with a win, as he defeated Sergey Khandozhko in November 2019 in his last bout. Each of the Dagestani fighter’s last nine bouts have all reached the scorecards, and “Tiger” sports a paltry finish rate of 37 percent.

Kennedy fought with the UFC four times from 2016 to 2018, and his only loss with the company was a knockout at the hands of current featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski. After that four-fight stretch, Kennedy picked up a pair of knockouts with Brave Combat Federation before signing up for the 2019 Professional Fighters League season. Reaching the playoffs only to lose to Daniel Pineda – who later failed a post-fight drug test – the PFL decided to give Alex Gilpin a place in the finals instead of Kennedy.

These fighters will join others like Corey Anderson and Cat Zingano, who recently moved on from the UFC to become part of the Bellator roster. Other names from various organizations that have elected to sign with Bellator of late include Jared Scoggins, Jaleel Willis and Bryce Logan.
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