June 28, 2018

Bellator Announces Welterweight Grand Prix: What Matchups Could We See?

By Adam Martin

Bellator MMA dropped some huge news this week, as Scott Coker announced that the promotion will be holding a Welterweight Grand Prix, a tournament that will start Saturday, September 29 at SAP Center in San Jose, California. It's the second tournament Bellator has held this year, including the Heavyweight Grand Prix, and it further shows the Bellator president's commitment to making tournaments an integral part of the promotion's future going forward. This eight-main welterweight tournament is going to be fun.

Though the four tournament bouts haven't been set yet, we do have an idea of some of the fights Bellator wants to put together. The first is a trilogy matchup between former Bellator welterweight champions Douglas Lima and Andrey Koreshkov, who are one apiece in their two matches so far. The first time they fought, Koreshkov picked up a big upset win when he dominated an injured Lima with his wrestling to win the belt. The second time they fought, Lima caught Koreshkov and knocked him out. The trilogy matchup makes a lot of sense, especially as part of this welterweight tournament.

The next fight being discussed in a grudge match between British strikers Michael Page and Paul Daley. These two have been going back-and-forth for years, but the fight has yet to happen for whatever reason. It makes a ton of sense to finally get the fight done, especially under the added spotlight of the tournament. On paper this is one of the most fan-friendly fights that Bellator can make, and fans can only hope that this time pen can get put to paper and this fight can be booked.

Also fighting in the tournament will be Bellator Welterweight Champion Rory MacDonald, though he will be fighting Bellator Middleweight Champion Gegard Mousasi in a superfight on the same night the tournament starts. And since MacDonald will move up in weight to fight Mousasi, he will still be the welterweight champion regardless of the fight's outcome, but MacDonald will enter the tournament with the intent to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is the best 170-pounder that Bellator has to offer. He should be considered the favorite to win it all.

The last three spots have yet to be officially filled, but one would have to imagine that ex-UFC fighters Jon Fitch and Lorenz Larkin will be a part of the tournament since they are both on big-money deals. Fitch has won five straight fights, and recently bested Daley in his Bellator debut, while Larkin has disappointed in Bellator with a 1-2 record, though he is coming off of a decision win over Fernando Gonzalez. For the last spot, Bellator may put in the undefeated Neiman Gracie, though prospects Joey Davis or Ed Ruth could get it. Or, the promotion could maybe sign another free-agent that the UFC lets go in the coming months. Regardless, we should expect the field to feature eight very solid welterweights.

Although tournaments are hard to do in MMA because of injuries, missing weight, and logistics as far as dates go, the sport was built on the premise of the best competing against the best. Bellator began as a tournament-based promotion under former leader Bjorn Rebney, went away from it under Coker, and now has gone back to them. Tournaments aren't easy to run, but Bellator is trying to do them, and after what has been a solid heavyweight tournament to date, this Welterweight Grand Prix is going to be a lot of fun as well. Now let's just hope no one gets hurt before the tournament starts.




Bellator: Mousasi vs. McDonald takes place September 29, 2018 at SAP Center in San Jose, California.


Click HERE for more Bellator: Mousasi vs. McDonald Pre-Fight Analysis


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