Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and revealed that his promotion is thinking about conducting a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the championship will start operating in October and will feature 16 of the top featherweights in Bellator, including fighters in the division in addition to bantamweights moving up and possibly even lightweights moving . The featherweight championship follows in the footsteps of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which just watched Ryan Bader crowned champion, and also the welterweight championship, which is still ongoing.
Coker told Helwani he needs the very first round of eight fights in the tournament to take place on a single night or on back-to-back nights in the fall. He also said he wants the tournament to conclude within a year, which practically mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight championship timelines.
As far as that will be among the 16 fighters in the tournament, so far no one has been announced, however, Coker did say he desires Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire for a part of the championship game. Pitbull is shooting on Michael Chandler in May for the Bellator lightweight name, so if he will take part in the championship he’ll still be the winner, meaning that his belt will be on the line in every round of this tournament just like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight title is on the line every time he fights.
So far as other featherweights who are predicted to maintain the championship, here are some who seem to be near locks: Growing prospect AJ McKee; top 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 ways that bantamweights will also be encouraged to move up, and Coker already said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell will be requested to take part in the championship. I would also expect Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be asked, too. As 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 simply 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 sport of MMA was build on the championship format. The promotion’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days was the tournaments but when Coker initially came in they began to go away in exchange for superfights and legends conflicts. Nonetheless, it feels like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN love the tournaments since it is the next one the advertising will be running within the previous couple of decades. Now, you have to wonder what another tournament for Bellator will be, and when I had to guess that it could be something in the women’s divisions. For the time being, though, featherweight has become a fantastic set of fights.
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