Nunes’ inconsistency in the Octagon cost him his job but the 30-year old featherweight impressed in the eight-sided cave on more than one occasion. Among his triumphs in the UFC are those over Bart Palaszewski, Raphael Assuncao, Mike Brown, and Manny Gamburyan. It’s an impressive resume to say the least, and the Nova Uniao product has a chance to show off his skills right away thanks to headlining fight with Patricio Freire this Friday night at Bellator 99. There’s no real argument against the UFC’s decision to cut Matyushenko after the 42-year old suffered back-to-back stoppages with each coming in the respective rumble’s first frame. However, considering his three losses in the Octagon came to Alexander Gustafsson, Ryan Bader, and Jon Jones, his struggle to find success is also understandable to an extent. Matyushenko won’t face that level of competition in Bellator and the fan-friendly fighter’s presence should be a welcome one starting this week when he takes to the cage at Bellator 99. It’s been nearly four years since Alexander saw action in the Octagon but the heavy-handed showman has kept busy in the span. He’s 6-4 in his last ten tilts and on a two-fight winning streak with both coming by way of a strike-based stoppage. With a bout against Matyushenko on the immediate horizon, Alexander could very well land a blow that puts him back on the map…sort of. Kongo wasn’t terrible by any means during his run in the UFC and could have easily been welcomed back into the fray as a gatekeeper. Though he’s 38, the athletic Frenchman has knockout power and a number of techniques at his disposal. Bellator has no real heavyweight division to speak of, so Kongo should definitely excel and add to a list already featuring wins over Matt Mitrione, Shawn Jordan, and Pat Barry. Some might argue Sass didn’t get a fair shake in the UFC. After compiling a 13-0 mark including finishes of Jacob Volkmann and Michael Johnson, the slick Brit stumbled in consecutive clashes and was promptly released. The Octagon’s loss should prove to be Bellator’s gain, as Sass adds both name value and sublime submission skills to a talent-needy roster. Ortiz and Jackson come attached at the hip thanks to a PPV pairing between the former UFC champions. Neither will take to the cage in 2013 beyond the November 2 scrap, but that’s not a bad thing given the stage each is at in his respective career. Still, Ortiz is an icon in the industry based on his contributions to the sport during a star-making run in the UFC and “Rampage” is a superstar as well, boasting a bit of Hollywood success in addition to a ton of headlining tilts.
UFC has been trimming the fat for years and Bellator is finally picking up some scraps as a result, both figuratively and literally. While many of the UFC veterans let go have their best days behind them, a few are arguably entering their primes, and in all cases the additions have bolstered a promotion looking to further cement the Bellator brand in the coming months. Better yet, fans can get their first taste of the new crop of UFC comptietors with ties to the UFC starting this Friday night at thanks to the recent debut of Season 9. (Photos by USA Today Sports Images) Bellator 99