Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and revealed that his promotion is thinking about running a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the championship will begin running in October and will feature 16 of the top featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters already in the division in addition to bantamweights moving up and possibly even lightweights moving down. The featherweight tournament follows at the forefront of this advertising’s heavyweight grand prix, which only saw Ryan Bader crowned winner, and the welterweight championship, which remains ongoing.
Coker told Helwani he wants the very first round of eight fights from the tournament to take place on a single night or on back-to-back nights in the fall. In addition, he said he wants the championship to conclude within a year, which practically mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight championship timelines.
As far as who will be one of the 16 fighters in the championship, so far nobody has been announced, however, Coker did state he desires Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire for part of the tournament. Pitbull is taking on Michael Chandler in May for its Bellator lightweight title, so if he does participate in the tournament he’ll still be the winner, meaning that his belt is going to be at stake in each round of the tournament like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is online each time he fights.
As far as some other featherweights who are expected to be in the championship, here are a few who appear 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 ways that bantamweights are also encouraged to move up, and Coker already said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell is going to be asked to take part in the championship. I would also anticipate Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be requested, too. So far as lightweights proceed, there could possibly be a couple of fighters who could create the cut down a weight class including Derek Campos, who just fought featherweight in his last struggle, and Ryan Scope, who just lost a close fight against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It’s exciting to see Bellator continue to hold these tournaments as the sport of MMA was build on the tournament format. The advertising’s bedrock back at the Bjorn Rebney days has been the championships but when Coker first 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 promotion will be running within the last couple of years. At this point, you need to wonder what the next tournament for Bellator is, and if I had to guess it could be something in the women’s divisions. For now, however, featherweight is getting a fantastic set of conflicts.
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