Bellator president Scott Coker went on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and revealed the news that his marketing is planning on conducting a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the tournament will start operating in October and will feature 16 of their best featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters in the division as well as bantamweights moving up and potentially even lightweights moving down. The featherweight tournament follows at the forefront of this promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which just watched Ryan Bader crowned champion, and also the welterweight championship, which is still continuing.
Coker told Helwani he needs the very first round of eight fights in the championship to take place on one night or on back-to-back nights at the autumn. He also said he wants the tournament to complete within a year, which nearly mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight tournament timelines.
As far as that will be one of the 16 fighters in the tournament, so far nobody has been announced, but Coker did say he wants Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire for part of the tournament. Pitbull is shooting on Michael Chandler in May for its Bellator lightweight name, so if he does take part in the tournament he will still be the winner, meaning his belt will be at stake in each round of this tournament like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is on the line every time he fights.
As far as some other featherweights that are predicted to maintain the championship, here are a few who appear to be close locks: Growing prospect AJ McKee; leading rival Henry Corrales; former champ Daniel Straus; former champ Pat Curran; former top prospect Aaron Pico; former title contender Emmanuel Sanchez; and former UFC fighter Sam Sicilia.
The fact there aren’t 16 featherweights ways that bantamweights will also be invited to move up, and Coker said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell will be requested to get involved in the championship. I would also expect Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be asked, as well. As far as lightweights go, there could possibly be a couple of fighters who may make the cut down a weight class involving Derek Campos, who simply fought featherweight in his last fight, and Ryan Scope, who just lost a close fight against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It is exciting to see Bellator continue to hold these tournaments as the game of MMA was build on the tournament format. The advertising’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days was the championships but when Coker initially came in they started to go away in exchange for superfights and legends conflicts. Nonetheless, it feels like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN adore the tournaments since it is the third one the promotion will be running within the last couple of decades. Now, you need to wonder what the next tournament for Bellator will be, and when I had to guess it would be something in the women’s branches. For now, however, featherweight is getting a fantastic pair of conflicts.
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