SCOTT COKER ANNOUNCES 16-MAN BELLATOR FEATHERWEIGHT TOURNAMENT
Bellator president Scott Coker proceeded on Ariel Helwani’s ESPN MMA Show on Monday and revealed the news 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 their top featherweights in Bellator, for example fighters in the branch in addition to bantamweights moving upward and potentially even lightweights moving down. The featherweight tournament follows at the forefront of the promotion’s heavyweight grand prix, which only watched Ryan Bader crowned champion, and the welterweight championship, which is still ongoing.
Coker advised Helwani he wants the first round of eight fights from the championship to take place on one night or about back-to-back nights at the fall. In addition, he said he needs the tournament to complete within a calendar year, which practically mirrors the heavyweight and welterweight tournament timelines.
As far as that will be among the 16 fighters in the tournament, so far nobody has been declared, however, Coker did state he desires Bellator featherweight champion Patricio”Pitbull” Freire for part of the championship game. Pitbull is taking on Michael Chandler in May for the Bellator lightweight name, so if he does take part in the tournament he’ll still be the winner, meaning that his belt is going to be on the line in each round of this tournament just like Rory MacDonald’s welterweight name is online every time he fights.
As far as some other featherweights who are expected to be in the tournament, here are some who appear to be near locks: Rising prospect AJ McKee; top contender Henry Corrales; former champ Daniel Straus; former champ Pat Curran; former top prospect Aaron Pico; former name competition Emmanuel Sanchez; and former UFC fighter Sam Sicilia.
The fact there aren’t 16 featherweights means that bantamweights are also 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, as well. So far as lightweights proceed, there could potentially be a few fighters who could make the cut down a weight class including Derek Campos, who just 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 hold these tournaments as the game of MMA was build on the championship format. The promotion’s bedrock back in the Bjorn Rebney days has been the championships but when Coker initially came in they began to go out in trade for superfights and legends fights. But it feels like Coker, Bellator, Paramount and DAZN adore the tournaments since this is the next one the promotion will be running within the last couple of decades. At this point, you need to wonder what another tournament for Bellator is, and if I had to guess it could be something in the women’s divisions. For now, however, featherweight has become a great set of conflicts.
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