Bellator MMA has decided to scoop up a number of French free agents, including ROAD FC lightweight champ and million dollar tournament winner Mansour Barnaoui.
Promotion officials announced the news on Thursday, just weeks after their most recent trip to Paris — and in advance of rival UFC’s French debut this September. All seven signings revealed Thursday hail from France, and join talents like Cheick Kongo and Lucie Bertaud on the Bellator MMA roster.
Barnaoui is the coup de grace, however. The 19-4 lightweight has not competed since prior to the pandemic, and is undefeated in his last seven fights. Among his losses are Kevin Lee and Mateusz Gamrot, with the Lee loss in particular coming very early in Barnaoui’s career.
Quoted in a press release on Thursday, Barnaoui stated that “I have been very impressed by the two Bellator events in my home country, France. They were truly a success, and Bellator was the first high-ranking promotion coming in France, so that counts to me.”
The other signings announced on Thursday all competed on the recent Bellator 280 card in Paris, France. Those include lightweights Davy Gallon (21-7-2) and Yves Landu (17-9), welterweights Thibault Gouti (16-5) and Bourama Camara (5-1), and middleweights Gregory “Blade” Babene (22-11) and Youcef Ouabbas (3-0).
Gallon in particular has stood out through three appearances with the promotion. The lightweight has won his last five fights, including a knockout of Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson via rolling thunder kick that went viral. In his most recent outing, Gallon stopped Benjamin Brander with ground n’ pound from the crucifix.
Babene, who defeated Mike Shipman at the Paris event, has won seven straight — and holds a win over former PFL champion Emiliano Sordi.
No debut date has been set for any of the names signed, but it’s a safe bet that Bellator’s next trip to Paris will be loaded with local talent.