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A former UFC and Strikeforce competitor with a reputation for exciting fights is back in MMA’s big leagues.
Bobby Voelker has signed a contract with Bellator, MMA Junkie has learned from promotion officials. While he doesn’t have his first bout signed, he hopes to step in the cage by mid-to-late July.
“I’m glad to be back,” Voelker told MMA Junkie. “I still like to put on exciting fights for the fans, but I’m continuing to grow as a fighter, and I’m glad I’m going to have the chance to show it in Bellator.”
Voelker (33-13), who has been competing professionally since 2006, made his national reputation in one of mixed martial arts’ more underrated trilogies during his Strikeforce days, as he avenged an initial loss to Roger Bowling in 2010 with a pair of second-round TKOs in their second and third fights in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
After leaving the UFC in 2014, Voelker has competed exclusively for Shamrock FC in his hometown of Kansas City, where he’s gone 7-1. His most recent victory was on April 6, in which he earned the nod over Cameron DeCamp to earn the promotion’s welterweight title.
“I’m definitely still evolving. I want to always get better,” Voelker said. “I have to get better. Everyone else is getting better. So to keep my fights exciting I’ve got to get better with everyone else, getting better with my ground and my standup, stay tough, stay strong, work hard, and just keep on going at it, and that’s what makes my fights still so darn exciting.”
That isn’t all Voelker’s been up to in recent years. Voelker has joined the growing ranks of fighters who have an eye on the officiating end of the game. He’s served as a referee on smaller shows in his home state of Missouri, although the commission has since asked him to step aside until his fighting career is over due to potential conflicts of interest.
Still, Voelker said the experience has helped him as a fighter and offers him a way to stay active after his fighting days are done.
“As I’m reffing, I’ve become more aware of what the fighters are going to do before the fighters even do it,” Voelker said. “So, in my own fights, I can almost sense what my opponent might be more willing to do at that moment than if I wasn’t a ref I wouldn’t have noticed that.
“I wasn’t mad about being told to stop for now,” Voelker continued. “I understand where they’re coming from with conflict of interest, but it’s something I’d like to get back into when I’m done fighting.”
Voelker turns 40 on April 26, so that idea is more tangible than it might be for someone who is just breaking in. But with seven wins in his past eight fights, he believes he’s got one more run left in him, and he’s glad Bellator is going to give him the opportunity to prove he still belongs on the big stage.
“I’d love to be a contender,” Voelker said. “I’d love to be at the top of the program, looking for one or two wins, fighting for a belt. That’s always a fighter’s dream come true. Of course it’s still my goal. Once I get healed up from this fight I’m going to step in there and give it my best shot.”
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