Cast your minds back to 2011 when Scott Coker then at the helm of Strikeforce announced a Heavyweight Tournament. It ended in 2012 when a replacement Daniel Cormier beat Josh Barnett in the final.
Move forward to 2017, Scott Coker now with Bellator MMA, today announced the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018 to finally crown a new Bellator Heavyweight Champion.
The following fighters are due to compete in the Grand Prix which is scheduled to end in December 2018:
I am not about to knock the tournament, crowning a new Bellator Heavyweight Champion is badly overdue, but some names don’t make any sense to me, Sonnen, Rampage and especially the current Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader are the obvious ones.
If Bader makes it through to the finals, that’s 3 fights in 2018, and that will probably tie him up for the majority of next year, and with it the Light Heavyweight Title is tied up as well.
I would have preferred a 4 man tournament, Mitrione, Nelson, Mir and one out of King Mo and Fedor. A new Heavyweight Champion is crowned quicker and we don’t get the Light Heavyweight division held up either.
Cheick Kongo and Bobby Lashley would have been better additions for me, although admittedly Lashley does have his pro wrestling obligations which probably counts him out of a potential year long tournament, but I am surprised Kongo is not in.
Including so many Light Heavyweights to me highlights the current lack of depth in the Bellator Heavyweight ranks, that said there is obvious interest to see how the likes of Bader will do, but does highlight other problems.
I like Bellator and you need competition for the UFC and somewhere else where the talent can ply their trade.
But for everything they do right, sometimes I think they struggle to find their identity, this Heavyweight Grand Prix is a prime example.