Bellator has announced they will hold a year-long heavyweight tournament in 2018.
The tournament format is not unfamiliar to MMA fans with Rizin staging the hugely popular heavyweight grand prix since 2015 and Scott Coker’s previous promotion, Strikeforce, holding a similar competition between 2011 and 2012.
Some of Bellator’s biggest heavyweight names have signed on, including Pride legend Fedor Emelianenko, while there is also several light heavyweights included.
WHAT IS THE FORMAT?
The tournament will be three rounds and a single eliminator system. If you’re beaten in any of the fights, you’re out of the running for the heavyweight crown.
There will be seven events across multiple locations in 2018 and the heavyweight clash will headline a normal Bellator fight night.
The match-ups will be decided randomly, but the date has yet to be announced about when that draw is.
WHAT FIGHTERS ARE INCLUDED?
There are some serious contenders amongst the already confirmed names. Heavyweight legend Emelianenko is set to return to action while newly resigned light heavyweight Quinton Jackson is also included.
Smack talker Chael Sonnen has also made good on his promise to move up to heavyweight while Bellator’s light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader will also step up a division to compete.
There is also expected to be a few fighters announced in the coming months who will act as stand-bys.
RYAN BADER (24-5)
FEDOR EMELIANENKO (36-5, 1 NC)
QUINTON ‘RAMPAGE’ JACKSON (37-12)
‘KING MO’ LAWAL (21-6, 1 NC)
FRANK MIR (18-11)
MATT MITRIONE (12-5)
CHAEL SONNEN (30-15-1)
WHEN WILL THE CHAMPION BE CROWNED?
Bellator expect to have blown through the tournament rounds by December 2018 and a heavyweight champion should be crowned by the end of the month. It is yet to be confirmed whether Coker plans to make it a Christmas event, similar to how Rizin schedule their grand prix.