The Return of “The Tournament” – Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix


Tournaments were once a staple in mixed martial arts. A tournament often led to the crowning of a new champion in MMA, but when the UFC ended the reign of the other premiere MMA organisation— Pride, they also ended the era of tournaments. But in 2018, Bellator brings the old and storied tradition back to MMA.

Bellator recently revealed that on January 20th, 2018, their tournament to crown a new heavyweight champion will begin. Its significance not only lies in the crowning of a new heavyweight champion, but it also highlights the company’s ability to offer a strong alternative product to the UFC.

UFC will always be the number one promotion, but Bellator has taken an effective route to becoming a very strong number two company. They have not only garnered attention by signing big names like Fedor, Chael Sonnen, and Rampage Jackson. They also have world class fighters such as Michael Chandler and Rory Macdonald.

According to Bellator welterweight Paul Daley, Bellator’s success is down to: “Being different, and having the cooperate backing to make a real deal impact”. The company not only has a talented, and now, star-studded roster, but they also offer them the freedom to take part in big and perhaps unconventional events like the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Dream fights and a two-weight world champion?

With the Grand Prix, Bellator has a yearlong event which will appeal to a large audience. The old school MMA fans that miss the days when tournaments were a regular thing will most certainly tune in. Newer fans will be curious, and the vast majority of fans are likely to tune in to see some “dream fights”. The opening round matchups include first-time bouts like Fedor v Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen v Rampage Jackson.

Both are fights fans have wanted to see for a long time, and who can forget Chael Sonnen’s classic line: “If I could understand a single word Rampage said about me. I might be mildly offended”. This dates back almost six or seven years, so it certainly shows you how long a fight between these two has been brewing.

Also, Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader is also taking part in the tournament which means he could end the year 2018 as both light heavyweight and heavyweight champion of the world. Something fighters in the UFC (aside from Conor McGregor of course) are not allowed to do.

Even welterweight Rory Macdonald has tried to convince Bellator president Scott Coker to let him compete in the tournament. While the odds of that happening are slim, it should not take away from what is an exciting and great move by Bellator MMA.


Written by Humza Hussain


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james may