Holytown Mixed Martial Arts ace Chris Bungard knows that signing a new megabucks contract with Californian-based promoter Bellator could inspire a significant improvement in his fortunes in and out of the ring.
Chris (29) currently lives in a four-in-a-block council property in Holytown, but he joked to the Motherwell Times after signing the lucrative five-fight deal: “Maybe I’ll just buy the biggest house in Holytown!
“This deal is basically life changing and I was delighted – over the moon – to sign it. It will just make me more comfortable in life in general.
“I have scraped by in the last few years. The UK MMA scene doesn’t really pay well.
“You don’t do it for the money, you do it for the sport.
“But now this deal has given me that bit of comfort and freedom.
“In all seriousness, my aim for the future is to buy a new house.
“I don’t know where I would like to stay. Obviously I’d like to stay near my family and friends, but I like travelling the world so I’d like to get to as many countries as I can.”
Bungard, who works as a bouncer at weekends in addition to doing a security job at festivals and on film sets, understandably didn’t want to reveal the exact amount of his new contract.
But he did say that the Bellator deal dwarves the one he was originally going to accept, from Cage Warriors, Europe’s biggest MMA promoter.
“I had wanted to fight with Bellator from the outset but I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Bungard added.
“A deal had been agreed in principle with Cage Warriors and I thought I was going to sign that.
“But then my coach Brian Gallacher phoned me in the early hours one morning to say about the contract offer from California.
“I couldn’t get back to sleep after hearing about it.
“It was great that Bellator came in at the last minute.
“It is a well established company – them and the UFC are the two biggest in the world – and I’m the first Scottish fighter to sign with them.
“I’m glad I signed with Bellator and not with the other company because Bellator’s deal is 25 times more than the other one.
“Although Cage Warriors is screened on BT Sport and is a great way to get yourself out there, the deal I’ve got will get me worldwide coverage on good money.”
Bungard – whose professional MMA record stands at 14 wins and four losses – has an explosive style which makes him extremely popular wherever he fights.
The North Lanarkshire ace – who is nicknamed The Bad Guy – will scrap in Dublin, New York and Israel before the end of the year, on dates still to be finalised.
Bungard added: “I’ve not fought since June and I think my next fight will be in November. I have been doing the MMA for nine years and nine years of hard work has finally paid off.
“The contract can go up with every win, which gives me more incentive. I will take it one fight at a time.”
Bellator is the second-largest MMA promotion in the world and features many of the top-ranked fighters in Combat Sports.
The word Bellator means “warrior” in Latin.