CHICAGO, Ill. (December 21, 2009) – In yet another off-season coup, Bellator Fighting Championships announced Monday the acquisition of one of the top free-agent mixed martial artists in all of Europe, 18-5 British welterweight Jim Wallhead.
Wallhead-also known as “Judo Jim”-has won each of his last six fights and nine out of his last 11. He was recently lauded by Sherdog.com as “the top 170-pound fighter in Europe yet to be signed by a major promotion.”
With his signing, Wallhead has been invited to compete in Bellator’s upcoming eight-man welterweight tournament, which commences during Bellator’s Season 2 kickoff on April 8, 2010. Bellator will also conduct tournaments at 145, 155, and 185 lbs. with the winners of this year’s tournaments being declared No. 1 contenders to Bellator’s current roster of champions.
“Adding Jim to our welterweight division is magic for Bellator,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “As one of Europe’s top welterweights, Jim will no doubt use our April tournament on Fox Sports Net to introduce U.S. MMA fans to what European fans already know. Jim is the real deal. As a fan, I can’t wait to see Wallhead, Askren, McClintok and Hornbuckle face off.”
A native of Leicester, England, Wallhead, 25, earned his black belt in Judo at age 16 and won Britain’s under-21 Judo championship at the age of 19. He made his professional MMA debut in 2005 at the age of 21 and has since compiled wins over top MMA talents like UFC veterans Jason Tan and Steven Lynch. In his most recent fight, Wallhead won a unanimous decision against former TUF participant Che Mills in Wales.
Wallhead said that he was drawn to Bellator because of the opportunity to match up against other top welterweights and the chance to spread his notoriety to MMA fans in the U.S. via Bellator’s historic multi-tiered TV distribution alliance. Each of Bellator’s 24 fights during Seasons 2 and 3 will be distributed live in primetime on Thursday nights on FOX Sports Net and its regional sports network affiliates. The top moments from each week’s live events will then be condensed into an action-packed 30-minute highlight show, broadcast every Saturday night, late night, on NBC. A one-hour highlight show will air in Spanish on Telemundo every Saturday night from midnight to 1 a.m.
“I’ve been looking for a home in a big promotion for quite a while, so I’m just over the moon about signing with Bellator,” said Wallhead. “I watched the Bellator shows last year, and it’s really just a great, high-standards promotion. I’m relishing the challenge to let it all hang out, to take some risks and, hopefully, to have some success against the top competition in the world.”
Wallhead currently resides in Loughborough, England, with his wife and three-year-old daughter.
For more information, please visit Bellator.com.