Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and disclosed that his marketing is thinking about conducting a 16-man featherweight grand prix tournament. According to Coker, the championship will begin running in October and will feature 16 of their best featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters already in the division as well as bantamweights moving upward and possibly even lightweights moving down. The featherweight tournament follows at the forefront of this promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which only watched Ryan Bader crowned winner, and also the welterweight championship, which is still ongoing.
Coker told Helwani he needs the first round of eight fights in the championship to take place on a single night or about back-to-back nights in the fall. In addition, he said he wants the championship to complete within a year, which practically mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight tournament timelines.
As far as who will be one of the 16 fighters in the championship, so far no one has been announced, but Coker did say he wants Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire to be a part of the championship game. Pitbull is taking on Michael Chandler in May for the Bellator lightweight name, so if he does participate in the championship he’ll still be the champion, meaning his belt will be at stake in every round of the tournament like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is online each time he fights.
As far as other featherweights that are predicted to be in the championship, here are some who seem to be near locks: Growing prospect AJ McKee; leading contender Henry Corrales; former champ Daniel Straus; former champ Pat Curran; former high prospect Aaron Pico; former name competition 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 is going to be asked to take part in the championship. I would also expect Ricky Bandejas and Juan Archuleta to be requested, as well. So far as lightweights proceed, there could potentially be a couple of fighters who could create the cut down a weight class involving Derek Campos, who simply fought featherweight in his last fight, and Ryan Scope, who just lost a close struggle against Patricky”Pitbull” Freire.
It is exciting to see Bellator continue to maintain these tournaments as the game of MMA was build on the championship format. The promotion’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days was the championships but when Coker first came in they started to go away in exchange for superfights and legends conflicts. But it feels like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN adore the tournaments since this is the third one the promotion will be running within the last couple of years. Now, you need to wonder what another tournament for Bellator will be, and if I had to guess that it would be something in the women’s branches. For now, however, featherweight is getting a fantastic pair of conflicts.
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