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MMA News: Bellator announce signing of former rugby star James Haskell

Bellator President Scott Coker
Bellator President Scott Coker
ANALYST
Modified 22 Aug 2019, 15:41 IST
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What's the story?

Bellator have announced the signing of former England international rugby star James Haskell.

Haskell has signed a multi-fight deal with the MMA promotion and will compete as part of their heavyweight division.

Bellator began teasing an announcement of a major new signing earlier this week and took to Twitter earlier today to announce the exciting new acquisition.

In case you didn't know...

James Haskell, 34, made a name for himself playing rugby union and managed an impressive 77 appearances for the England national team before announcing his retirement from the sport in May of this year.

The heart of the matter

Haskell's decision to jump over to the world of MMA will come as a surprise to many, as there had been no indication that he had plans to enter combat sports following his retirement from rugby.

It is likely that the signing of Haskell - who is a well known and popular athlete in the UK - will be part of Bellator's attempts to grow their new Bellator Europe brand, which is looking to exploit the UFC's lack of activity in the region.

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What's next?

It remains to be seen how equipped Haskell is to compete at the very highest level of MMA as very little is known about his formal training in mixed martial arts, but the natural athletic prowess of the former rugby star is undeniable.

It is expected that he may be matched up with lower level opponents to begin his journey into combat sports, with many parallels being drawn between Haskell and the UFC's Greg Hardy, who has made a successful transition from American Football over to the UFC and is growing into the sport.

Bellator will head to the Webster Bank Arena in Connecticut this weekend for their Bellator 225 event which will be headlined by Matt Mitrione and Sergei Kharitonov who will meet in a heavyweight bout.

Published 22 Aug 2019, 15:41 IST
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