Bellator president Scott Coker went on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and disclosed that his marketing 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 best featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters already in the branch in addition to bantamweights moving upward and possibly even lightweights moving . The featherweight championship follows in the footsteps of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which only saw Ryan Bader crowned winner, and also the welterweight tournament, which is still ongoing.
Coker told Helwani he needs the first round of eight fights in the championship to take place on one night or about back-to-back nights in the fall. In addition, he said he needs the championship to conclude within a year, which practically mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight tournament timelines.
As far as who will be among the 16 fighters at the championship, so far no one has been declared, but Coker did say he desires Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire for part of the tournament. Pitbull is taking on Michael Chandler in May for the Bellator lightweight title, so if he does take part in the championship he’ll be the winner, meaning that his belt will be at stake in every round of this tournament like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is online each time he fights.
So far as some other featherweights that are predicted to maintain the tournament, here are a few who seem to be close locks: Rising prospect AJ McKee; top rival Henry Corrales; former champ Daniel Straus; former champ Pat Curran; former top prospect Aaron Pico; former name 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 said that James Gallagher and Darrion Caldwell is going to be asked to take part in the championship. I’d also expect Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be requested, too. As far as lightweights proceed, there might possibly be a couple of fighters who may make the cut down a weight class involving Derek Campos, who simply fought featherweight in his final struggle, and Ryan Scope, who just lost a close fight against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It is exciting to see Bellator continue to maintain these tournaments as the sport of MMA was build on the tournament format. The advertising’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days was the championships but when Coker first came in they began to go out in exchange for superfights and legends fights. But it seems like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN love the tournaments since this is the third one the promotion will be running over the last couple of years. At this point, 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 branches. For now, however, featherweight has become a great pair of fights.
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