Everyone nowadays finds themselves asking questions and demanding answers in regards to things in the MMA world. Most commonly, they all ask how certain bouts make sense, even though they know every promotion strives to deliver the best fights possible, given its roster of athletes. Lately, though, the questions of “How does this make sense?” came to apply to promotions who changed their tune on things they once claimed they would never do.

For a case in point, look at Bellator MMA. The promotion launched in 2008 with intentions of showcasing the premier talent from outside of the Zuffa banner, and, with the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Hector Lombard and Joe Warren, it did exactly that. Sure, as Bellator started to pick up momentum and promotional steam, its tournaments began to feature the likes of UFC veterans Maiquel Falcao, Ben Saunders and Roger Huerta, among others, but the promotion also provided a platform for fans to acquaint themselves with rising under-the-radar talents while keeping the UFC contingent to a reasonable minimum.

That once-unknown field of then-rising talent included now-proven commodities like the “Pitbull Brothers” Patricky and Patricio Freire, as well as undefeated Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren, Bellator light heavyweight champ Attila Vegh, undefeated Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler, current Bellator bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas, middleweight kingpin Alexander Shlemenko, featherweight champion Pat Curran, plus Ed West and Daniel Straus, among others.

In simple terms, the promotion developed its own talent and created worldwide demand for fans who in turn expressed their interest in seeing those athletes on a bigger stage, a plan which began to come to fruition when Lombard finally signed with the UFC. Bellator moved to Spike TV soon after, featuring Chandler, Askren, Vegh, Curran, Dantas and Shlemenko on the channel, as well as a number of other young talents that fans could only find in Bellator. When the UFC trimmed 16 athletes from its roster earlier this year, including Jon Fitch, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney made it perfectly clear that the UFC would not sign Fitch, arguably one of the biggest free agents on the market at the time, because Fitch did not fit into the “Bellator plan,” so to speak. Rebney suggested that Bellator had no interest in the UFC’s castoffs.

Clearly, though, something changed Rebney’s tune, because before anyone knew it, the promotion went from acquiring Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Renato “Babalu” Sobral to gaining Matthew Riddle and Vladimir Matyushenko. Then, the less-than-surprising acquisition of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson went down, and not all that long after, Bellator made the announcement that shocked the world when declaring that Jackson would meet fellow former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz at Bellator 106 live on pay-per-view this November. However, the story does not end there.

Beyond the decision to feature Ortiz and Rampage, the promotion picked up War Machine, Diego Nunes, and recently, Nah-Shon Burrell and Cheick Kongo. Kongo, War Machine and Nunes will fight as part of upcoming Bellator tournaments, while Burrell’s debut fight remains unknown. Additionally, Alvarez’s well-publicized contract situation appeared to cast a bit of another negative light on the promotion, with Alvarez ultimately remaining with Bellator and now gearing up to co-headline Bellator 106 in a lightweight title rematch with Chandler. Suggestions indicate that an Alvarez loss will mark his final bout with the promotion, while a win sets up a trilogy.

What happened to Bellator MMA not wanting the UFC’s leftovers and supposedly never feeding talent to the UFC?

The only logic that holds up in regards to this deals with the realization that Bellator needs these recognizable names to boost its appeal with mainstream fans. They realize that without that appeal to mainstream fans, the pay-per-view will draw very little attention, if any at all, and a pay-per-view bust holds potential to spell the beginning of the end of the promotion. Featuring Ortiz-Jackson, as well as certain ex-UFC stars, gives fans incentive to buy the pay-per-view because they get to enjoy two legends of the sport in action while also getting a taste of what the next generation of fighters can offer.

Does the influx of ex-UFC talent to Bellator correlate with Ray Sefo’s World Series of Fighting providing a potential threat to Bellator’s position as the No. 2 promotion in MMA? It remains too early to tell if WSOF, as good as its product proves consistently, deserves that argument, so for right now, let’s pour some cold water on that notion. After all, WSOF’s roster packs serious action, but few view its divisions as legitimate because they all lack substantial depth. Granted, Bellator itself grows every day and the core of the roster’s depth lies in the promotion’s welterweight ranks more than any other division, but its longevity helps the promotion to retain the appeal that its homegrown talent brings.

Still, if Bellator wants to break through to that all-important next level of success, the next step involves appealing somehow to fans who likely could not pick Alvarez, Chandler, Curran or Straus out of a crowd. Getting Lawal on pay-per-view started things off well in that regard, but Lawal by himself would not draw the attention Bellator would want in order to prove that it offers real competition to the UFC. Attracting that attention meant betraying Rebney’s word, but in time, Bellator 106 will look to demonstrate why the promotion made the right call by booking Jackson-Ortiz as the headliner.

Photo: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Tito Ortiz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)