Big news for Bellator MMA and their hunt to fill the heavyweight champion spot. Check out the line up of their killer heavyweight tournament…
Continuing the pursuit of the UFC, Bellator MMA is putting together a massive eight-man tournament. After Vitaly Minakov failed to defend the belt for two years, Bellator stripped the Russian of the belt.
That was May of 2016, and since then the 265-pound title has sat in limbo. No more, though, as the news was broken by MMA Junkie that Scott Coker is pulling out some serious stars at heavyweight.
Rather than seeking a big fight for the vacant championship, Bellator has formed a killer squad of heavyweights. Let’s take a look at the stars of Bellator’s heavyweight Grand Prix, set to go down in 2018.
UFC and Pride FC veterans, as well as a host of other heavy hitters make up the squad for the HW GP next year.
First, Pride heavyweight legend…
‘The Last Emperor’ competed against Matt Mitrione in an unsuccessful Bellator debut in June. Now well past his prime, can Fedor turn back the clocks to his glory days? And Frank Mir, recently released from his UFC contract, will also compete in the Grand Prix.
Chael Sonnen, the most well-known talker in MMA, graces the Bellator octagon in his heavyweight debut. Roy Nelson, Ultimate Fighter Winner and heavyweight knockout artist, is in on the game too.
Coker Bills ‘Iconic’ Tourney
“This is going to be something that’s iconic for us,” Coker said. “Tournaments, traditionally, are kind of the way martial arts contests happen. Now we get to put eight iconic brand names in our sport together over a year, and then whoever wins will be crowned the heavyweight champion.”
Also from MMAJunkie.com, the full list and record of competitors, including Ryan Bader, King Mo, Rampage Jackson and Matt Mitrione:
The eight contestants include some of the organization’s most recognizable heavyweights, including former PRIDE champion Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), two-time former UFC titleholder Frank Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), and Roy Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA).
Additionally, four light heavyweight stars are moving up a division for a chance at heavyweight gold, with current 205-pound champ Ryan Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), former UFC champ Quinton Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA), ex-Strikeforce titleholder Muhammed Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) and multi-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) also confirmed for the grand prix.
“I think there are certain fights that people want to see,” Coker said. “Believe me, we’re going to have some amazing matchups in this tournament.
“These fights that we’re going to put together are something that the fans want to see. These are iconic names, big brands.”
The tournament bouts will be contested throughout 2018, with the current plan calling for one tournament fight per night at seven yet-to-be-decided Bellator events. The final is tentatively scheduled for December 2018.