Friday night, at Bellator 149, Kimbo Slice faces (or faced, depending on when you’re reading this) some guy you’ve probably never heard of, with the ludicrous name of Dada 5000. If you’re a fan of backyard brawls, street fighting (the kind without Blanka), or a Kimbo Slice historian (hey, it could happen), you might know Dada (real name: Dhafir Harris, real pro record: 2-0). Otherwise, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that Slice, who still is a bankable star despite all odds, is crushing a can.

Of course, there’s beef here, Bellator insists. And that’s fine. It’s a sideshow co-main event to the starring attraction in this circus: a pair of fighters from the original era of modern MMA, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock. Sure, they’re old, and this fight would have been a lot more interesting ten years ago, but at least they were once bonafide champs at the top of their sport. Against each other, at this point in their careers, they’re probably pretty evenly matched, and can’t do too much damage to each other. It’s a little less nerve-wracking than thinking about Shamrock stepping into a cage with Slice again, anyway.

Yet though late, Shamrock vs. Gracie 3 could actually be a blueprint for something better: a time when Bellator offers up not freakshow fights, but dream fights.

Hear me out: for all the jokes about Bellator becoming a senior’s league, there’s clearly a market for older, name fighters who aren’t viable title contenders being paired up in legend vs. legend fights. That’s why names like Ortiz, Slice, and Shamrock have done so well in Bellator to date.

Now, consider who else Bellator has at their disposal: Rampage Jackson, who just agreed to a new two-fight deal with Bellator, ending a short-lived return to the UFC (who has said they won’t intervene) and an ugly lawsuit. Possibly Wanderlei Silva, who has had a lifetime ban reduced to three years (roughly half of which has already been served) by the NSAC, who was just released by the UFC, and who is appearing as a fan ambassador with Bellator. And then there’s the elusive Last Emperor, Fedor Emelianenko, who is currently with Rizin FF for one more fight, but who could easily turn up in Bellator MMA after that — and even then, the two are willing to co-promote.

For all the grief Bellator gets, what fan wouldn’t watch another Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva fight, or Rampage vs. Slice for that matter. Either Jackson or Wanderlei could easily be booked against the great Fedor, if he’s not too busy crushing Indian kickboxers, and then there’s the Jackson vs. Ortiz bout that was teased so long ago.

All of these fights, while a little late, would be viable, and still, ever so marginally relevant. They wouldn’t be fifty-somethings but guys just entering the end stages of their career, perhaps removed from a title shot but still worthy of headlining a card. Even names like King Mo (vs. Ortiz or Silva or again, even Fedor) or Bobby Lashley (against Slice anyway) could get in on the action.

With fighters like Shogun Rua, Mark Hunt, Roy Nelson, Josh Barnett, and others entering the end stages of their careers, any and all could look to Bellator for a final send-off, where they would be treated as A-list talent despite not being really relevant anymore (and I say this as fans of all four). A couple more signings by Bellator, and wham – they have not just a seniors division, but a dream fight division in the making, especially with the aging light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.

Leave the title hunting to the Phil Davis and Benson Hendersons of Bellator MMA, and give us a run of dreams fights, not just freakshows.

Hey, a guy can dream.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.