7 former Bellator champions who jumped to the UFC - and how they fared
This Saturday at UFC 235, former Bellator Welterweight champion Ben Askren will make his long-awaited debut inside the Octagon. While Askren hasn’t actually fought in Bellator since 2013 and has been with ONE FC for his last 7 fights, his debut still marks another example of a former champion of the UFC’s biggest rival promotion making his way into the Octagon.
Askren will join 7 other former Bellator champions who joined the UFC and to say they’ve seen mixed results in the biggest MMA promotion in the world would be an understatement.
Here is a look at the other former Bellator champions who have fought in the UFC, and how they did when they got there.
#1 Alexander Volkov
Russian Heavyweight Alexander ‘Drago’ Volkov claimed the Bellator Heavyweight title vacated by the retiring Cole Konrad in December 2012 by defeating Rich Hale in the final of Bellator’s Season 7 Heavyweight tournament. Volkov’s title reign was a strange one, as he spent almost a year as champion but never actually defended his belt successfully – Vitaly Minakov took it from him in his first fight since winning the title.
Following his title loss, Volkov won a further 3 fights in Bellator but left the promotion in 2015 after back-to-back losses to Tony Johnson and Cheick Kongo. After 2 fights under the M-1 banner in his native Russia, ‘Drago’ was then signed by the UFC, and it’s safe to say he’s done pretty well since moving to the Octagon.
Volkov defeated Timothy Johnson in his first fight in a bit of an unconvincing performance, but then reeled off impressive wins over Roy Nelson and Stefan Struve. That set him up for a main event against Fabricio Werdum last March, and ‘Drago’ looked fantastic in defeating the former UFC champion by 4th round TKO.
A title shot appeared to be in the Russian’s grasp, but he was stunningly KO’d by Derrick Lewis in his next fight in one of the all-time great UFC comebacks – Lewis, who had barely thrown a strike in the fight, somehow knocked Volkov out with just 11 seconds remaining.
Despite that setback, Volkov remains a viable title contender in the UFC, and he’s set to main event the upcoming Fight Night 149 show in St. Petersburg, facing off against Alistair Overeem.