Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and disclosed the news that his marketing is planning on conducting a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the championship will begin running in October and will feature 16 of their best featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters in the division in addition to bantamweights moving up and possibly even lightweights moving . The featherweight tournament follows at the forefront of the advertising’s heavyweight grand prix, which just saw Ryan Bader crowned champion, and the welterweight championship, which is still continuing.
Coker told Helwani he wants the very first round of eight fights from the championship to take place on a single night or on back-to-back nights in the autumn. In addition, he said he wants the championship to conclude within a calendar year, which nearly mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight tournament timelines.
As far as that will be one of the 16 fighters in the championship, so far no one has been announced, but Coker did state he wants Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire to be a part of the tournament. Pitbull is taking on Michael Chandler in May for its Bellator lightweight name, so if he will take part in the tournament he will still be the champion, meaning that his belt is going to be at stake in every round of this tournament like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight title is online every time he fights.
As far as other featherweights who are expected to be in the championship, here are some who seem to be near locks: Growing prospect AJ McKee; top rival Henry Corrales; former champ Daniel Straus; former champ Pat Curran; former top prospect Aaron Pico; former title competition Emmanuel Sanchez; and former UFC fighter Sam Sicilia.
The fact there aren’t 16 featherweights ways that bantamweights are also invited to move up, and Coker said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell is going to be asked to get involved in the championship. I would also anticipate Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be asked, too. As far as lightweights go, there might possibly be a few fighters who could make the cut down a weight class involving Derek Campos, who just fought at featherweight in his last fight, and Ryan Scope, who only lost a close struggle against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It is exciting to see Bellator continue to maintain these tournaments as the game of MMA was build on the tournament format. The promotion’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days has been the championships but when Coker initially came in they started to go away in exchange for superfights and legends fights. But it seems like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN adore the tournaments since this is the next one the promotion will be running within the last couple of decades. At this point, you have to wonder what the next tournament for Bellator will be, and when I had to guess that it would be something in the women’s branches. For the time being, though, featherweight has become a fantastic set of fights.
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