Former champs, huge names and some bonafide legends collide as the Bellator heavyweight tournament’s first-round of fights looks set to be finalized.
Admit it, this heavyweight tournament looks set to be a whole lot of fun.
Bellator are planning on crowning a new champion of their heavyweight division using the old school method of having a certain number of fighters compete in a eight-man tournament designed to eliminate all but one winner.
The old-PRIDE-style makeup was what Scott Coker’s promotion were clearly going for this time around and with some of the game’s oldest and most iconic faces to boast among this star-studded lineup, it may well serve to be a well-timed trip down memory lane for those who have been with the sport for a while.
Four natural heavyweights and four natural light-heavyweights will face off for the chance to win the belt. At 205lbs, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, ‘King Mo’ Lawal, Chael Sonnen and Ryan Bader and at 265lbs, Fedor Emelianenko, Roy Nelson, Matt Mitrione and Frank Mir.
Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting reported the news recently that the bouts Bellator were looking to book were as follows.
Rampage Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen
Matt Mitrione vs. Roy Nelson
Ryan Bader vs. King Mo Lawal
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir
It’s not 100% finalized just yet, but these are the matchups as of right now for the Bellator HW tourney:
Rampage vs. Sonnen
Mitrione vs. Nelson
Bader vs. Lawal
Fedor vs. Mir (previously reported)
Dates TBD, but that would be the order with a fight every month from Jan-April.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) November 17, 2017
It appears as though it will be like-for-like straight away as the four heavyweights face off and the four light-heavyweights do the same. 2018 could be a pivotal year in the rise of Bellator MMA and with some serious signings made in the year 2017, a tournament of this stature could be exactly what they need to make that push onto the next level.
Rory MacDonald has offered himself up as an alternate in the likely event that any of the above names pulls out and with his skillset surely coming into its peak years, he could well provide a very interesting ingredient into this already-interesting pot, size difference or not.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena