Former Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus is not happy being left out of the upcoming million-dollar tournament that kicks off in March. Primus, who has been a member of Bellator’s roster for almost ten years, told MMA Fighting that he discovered during the Jan. 11 announcement he wasn’t one of eight men.
“I was told I was in the tournament,” Primus said. For the past couple of months, I literally called my manager each week. ‘Dude, you’re in the tournament, I’ve already talked to him. You’re in the tournament, don’t worry.’ And I went to conditioning and looked at my phone and saw that I wasn’t in the tournament and, man, I just wanted to cry. I lost all motivation. It just hurts, man. Hurts really bad.
” I resigned with Bellator several years back and it was something like: “Oh, we’re going to do the million dollar lightweight tournament,” so that was what was on my mind the entire time. My goal was to win the tournament, put my all into it and make sure that my wife doesn’t need to work any more. I’m so freaking heartbroken, man. I respect Bellator, I love them, they picked me up when I was only 2-0 and nobody fighting me locally. I was thinking about giving up MMA so I respect them a bunch, but this is a hard pill to swallow. It’s hard.”
The lightweight tournament starts March 10 with champion Usman Nurmagomedov defending his title against Benson Henderson, who lost to Primus in October 2021, and Tofiq Musayev vs. Alexander Shabliy. Mansour Barnaoui faces Sidney Outlaw on May 12, while A.J. McKee takes on former champion Patricky Pitbull on a yet-to-be-announced date.
” What’s so frustrating is that I asked for a fight, and they offered me one against Mansour [Barnaoui] man who was in the tournament. Primus stated. “They offered me to fight him at the end of October in Italy. Without hesitation, I agreed. He thought that I was going to be fighting me. I was training for him, my wife asked for time off of work, my family started looking for plane tickets, and then a week later I got a call from my manager saying, ‘He does not want to fight you for his first Bellator fight, he wants to fight somebody else, so that was off the table.’ I was really pissed off about that. It was like getting kicked in the stomach when he said he didn’t want me to fight him and that he is in the tournament. It’s so hard to deal with, man. I’m so sad and disappointed. It sucks.”
Primus is 3-2 since losing the Bellator belt to Michael Chandler in 2018, but feels he had done enough to win a decision against Islam Mamedov in 2021. Primus said he was promised a title fight after beating Henderson three months later and jumped right back into camp, spending “a bunch of money,” but then “we found out that I’m not fighting for the title.” Primus lost to Alexander Shabliy in his most recent appearance.
“I’ve been training for [the tournament]. My butt has been working hard. It sucks,” Primus said. “I thought like, ‘Man, should I just retire and start teaching or get a job?’ I still don’t have a fight lined up right now, so I’m just keeping my face strong, praying and hoping everything will work out. They said that I’m the alternate for this tournament so I guess I can just cross my fingers and hope somebody gets injured.”
The veteran fighter turns 38 on April and admits that he is “disappointed” in Bellator. He hopes someone gets hurt, but not too seriously, so Primus steps in as an alternate. In the meantime, Primus asks for a spot on the March 10 event in San Jose, Calif.
” I respect Bellator so very much,” Primus stated. “They’re so awesome. All the men are great. Scott Coker and I have only spoken a few times. I wish we had a better relationship. Perhaps I will bring him cookies and donuts following my next fight. I have no idea. … Hopefully Bellator will give me a fight soon.”