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 operating in October and will feature 16 of the best featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters in the branch as well as bantamweights moving up and potentially even lightweights moving . The featherweight tournament follows in the footsteps of the advertising’s heavyweight grand prix, which just saw Ryan Bader crowned champion, and the welterweight tournament, which is still continuing.
Coker advised Helwani he wants the very first round of eight fights from the tournament to take place on one night or on back-to-back nights at the autumn. In addition, he said he needs the tournament 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 at the tournament, so far no one has been announced, however, Coker did say he desires Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire to be part of the championship game. Pitbull is taking on Michael Chandler in May for the Bellator lightweight title, so if he does participate in the championship he’ll still be the winner, meaning his belt is going to be at stake in each round of this tournament just like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is online each time he fights.
So far as some other featherweights that are expected to maintain the tournament, here are a few who appear to be close locks: Rising prospect AJ McKee; leading rival Henry Corrales; former champ Daniel Straus; former champ Pat Curran; former top prospect Aaron Pico; former name competition Emmanuel Sanchez; and former UFC fighter Sam Sicilia.
The fact there aren’t 16 featherweights ways that bantamweights will also be encouraged to move up, and Coker said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell is going to be asked to get involved in the tournament. I’d also expect Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be requested, as well. As far as lightweights go, there could potentially be a few fighters who may make the cut down a weight class including Derek Campos, who simply fought featherweight in his last fight, and Ryan Scope, who only lost a close struggle against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It’s fascinating to see Bellator continue to maintain such tournaments as the sport of MMA was build on the championship format. The promotion’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days has been the tournaments but when Coker first came in they began to go away in trade for superfights and legends conflicts. But it seems like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN love the tournaments as this is the third one the advertising will be running over the previous two decades. Now, you have to wonder what another tournament for Bellator will be, and if I had to guess it could be something in the women’s divisions. For now, however, featherweight is getting a great pair of conflicts.
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