Many times, the door into the family of Zuffa fighters can feel like a revolving one. As fast as some of these guys come through the door, they’re ushered back out and left to find a new promotion to call home. This can be due to any number of reasons, ranging from a string of losses to legal troubles to drug-related suspensions.

For many troubled fighters, Bellator seems to be the new “proving ground” of sorts. Recently, the Chicago-based promotion has had an influx of former Zuffa fighters sign with them, undoubtedly in hopes of resurrecting their careers.

Signing the likes of Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Maiquel Falcao and Brett Rogers has given Bellator a few names to bank on that may draw in a new audience, as well as giving their loyal fans new fighters to be excited about.

All three of these fighters have had a long, different and, perhaps, strange journey to the place they now reside.

For “King Mo,” he failed a drug test. The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion was coming off a knockout victory over Lorenz Larkin and was probably on the verge of another shot at the promotion’s vacant belt. Since losing the title to Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante—the only loss of Lawal’s professional career—Lawal has knocked out both of his opponents. The former NCAA Division I All-American has a huge fan base, largely due to his outlandish cage entrances, fan-friendly persona and exciting fight style. He appeared to be well on his way to being one of Strikeforce’s marquee names. After his January match-up with Larkin, it was announced his victory had been overturned to a no-contest after he tested positive for PED’s. He was consequently suspended and released.

Falcao may have the most interesting story of the three. He was released from the UFC after his lone appearance, a unanimous decision victory over Gerald Harris. It’s not very often you see fighters released after a victory, but Falcao was arrested in his native Brazil on assault charges stemming from a 2002 altercation with a woman. After his legal troubles were seemingly a thing of the past, the Brazilian was scheduled to return to the Octagon in January of 2011, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. In August of 2011, he was again slated to return to the Octagon, but was mysteriously released due to issues with the same 2002 arrest.

In what may be the most publicized fall from grace, Rogers was arrested on third-degree assault charges after allegedly beating his wife. He was immediately released from his Strikeforce contract, a move that was more than likely imminent to begin with, as he had dropped three of four fights leading up to his arrest. As a member of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Rogers was eliminated from the tournament by eventual finalist Josh Barnett in the quarterfinals, but may be most well known as being on the losing end of Fedor Emelianenko’s only Strikeforce victory.

So far, Falcao is the only one of these three men who has appeared in action for Bellator, and so far the gamble has paid off for Bjorn Rebney as the 31-year-old recently won the season-six middleweight tournament. With the loss of Bellator’s middleweight kingpin, Hector Lombard, to the UFC, Falcao’s run couldn’t have come at a better time for the promotion.

“King Mo’s” fan base is large and loyal; they are bound to follow him wherever he goes—the fact he’s also under contract with TNA Impact Wrestling should also lead to a large jump in ratings, as Brock Lesnar proved the crossover between MMA and wrestling audiences can be a vital one.

As for Rogers, he’s got the steepest hill to climb. He’s 1-4 in his last five fights, having been finished in three of his four losses. Couple his decline in performance with the label of a wife beater, and it’s going to be a long road back to the top for the heavyweight.

Everyone deserves a second chance, fighters included. For these three men, Bellator is their second chance. A second chance at redemption; a second chance to prove they belong in the same cage with the best. And most important, a second chance to prove their legal issues are a thing of the past. Good on you, Bellator, for providing them with the place to do so—while boosting your ratings at the same time.

Photo: Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Paige Berger

Relatively new to the sport of MMA, Paige is a life long athlete. She attended the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she was a pioneer member of the women's ice hockey program. She also excelled in softball and soccer before deciding to focus on hockey. Born and raised in New York, she is an avid Yankees fan. Currently residing in Las Vegas, a move she made after falling in love with MMA while training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., she is currently studying public relations and advertising at UNLV.