Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and disclosed the news that his marketing is thinking about conducting a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the tournament will start running in October and will feature 16 of their top featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters in the branch in addition to bantamweights moving upward and possibly even lightweights moving down. The featherweight tournament follows in the footsteps of this promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which only watched Ryan Bader crowned winner, and the welterweight tournament, which remains ongoing.
Coker advised Helwani he wants the very first round of eight fights from the tournament to take place on one night or about back-to-back nights in the autumn. He also said he needs the tournament to complete within a year, which practically 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 declared, but Coker did say that he desires Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire for part of the tournament. Pitbull is shooting on Michael Chandler in May for its Bellator lightweight title, so if he will participate in the tournament he’ll be the winner, meaning his belt will be at stake in every round of this tournament like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight title is online each time he fights.
So far as some other featherweights who are expected to be in the championship, here are some who seem to be close locks: Growing prospect AJ McKee; top 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 are not 16 featherweights means that bantamweights will also be invited to move up, and Coker already said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell will be asked to take part in the championship. I’d also anticipate Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be requested, too. So far as lightweights go, there could possibly be a few fighters who may create the cut down a weight class involving Derek Campos, who just fought at featherweight in his last fight, and Ryan Scope, who just lost a close struggle against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It’s fascinating to see Bellator continue to maintain such tournaments as the game of MMA was build on the championship format. The promotion’s bedrock back at the Bjorn Rebney days was the tournaments but when Coker initially came in they began to go away in exchange for superfights and legends fights. Nonetheless, it feels like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN love the tournaments as this is the third one the advertising will be running over the previous couple of decades. Now, you have to wonder what another tournament for Bellator is, and if I had to guess it would be something in the women’s branches. For the time being, though, featherweight is getting a fantastic set of fights.
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