Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and revealed the news that his marketing is planning on running a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the championship will begin operating in October and will feature 16 of the top featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters already in the division in addition to bantamweights moving upward and potentially even lightweights moving . The featherweight championship follows at the forefront of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which only watched Ryan Bader crowned champion, and also the welterweight tournament, which is still ongoing.
Coker advised Helwani he wants the first round of eight fights in the tournament to take place on one night or on back-to-back nights at the fall. In addition, he said he wants the championship to conclude within a year, which nearly mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight championship timelines.
As far as that will be among the 16 fighters in the tournament, so far nobody has been announced, however, Coker did say that he wants Bellator featherweight champion Patricio»Pitbull» Freire to be part of the championship game. Pitbull is shooting on Michael Chandler in May for its Bellator lightweight title, so if he does take part in the tournament he will be the champion, meaning his belt will be at stake in each round of this tournament just like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is online every time he fights.
As far as other featherweights who are expected to maintain the tournament, here are a few who appear to be close locks: Rising prospect AJ McKee; leading contender 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 means that bantamweights will also be encouraged to move up, and Coker 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 go, there could potentially be a few fighters who may create the cut down a weight class including Derek Campos, who simply fought at featherweight in his last fight, and Ryan Scope, who just lost a close struggle against Patricky»Pitbull» Freire.
It’s exciting to see Bellator continue to maintain such tournaments as the sport of MMA was build on the tournament 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 fights. But it feels like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN adore the tournaments as it is the third one the promotion will be running over the previous couple of years. Now, you need to wonder what another tournament for Bellator will be, and when I had to guess it could be something in the women’s divisions. For the time being, though, featherweight has become a fantastic set of conflicts.
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