October 28, 2019

Grand Design: Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix, Despite Snags Along the Way, Was Still A Success

By Adam Martin

Bellator MMA's Welterweight Grand Prix finally concluded at Bellator 232. In the event's headlining bout of the evening, Douglas Lima bested Rory MacDonald for a unanimous decision victory, becoming a three-time Bellator welterweight champion and the winner of three tournaments in the promotion. He's also $1 million richer. The tournament proved that Lima is beyond a doubt the best welterweight that Bellator has to offer, and Bellator President Scott Coker has to be pleased with the results.

Although the tournament ran into some snags along the way, overall the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix was a success for the promotion. If the goal of the tournament was to prove who the best welterweight in the promotion is and provide fans with exciting fights along the way, then it succeeded, because for the most part, that's exactly what the tournament did. We saw the best eight welterweights in Bellator compete, and Lima emerged as the top dog. That's a win.


To win the grand prize, Lima had to beat MacDonald, the unbeaten phenom Michael Page, and former champ Andrey Koreshkov. He did so in dominant fashion. The tournament did take a year to complete, and that's too long. That's one of the problems with this tournament format. But Lima stayed focused the entire time, and there's something to be said for that. Over the course of a year, Lima stayed at the top of his game and beat everyone the promotion put in front of him. That's impressive.

Of course, there were some disappointments along the way. MacDonald, namely. The former UFC title challenger did not have the showing Bellator expected of him. He was lucky to scratch by with a draw against an aging Jon Fitch, and while he did beat Neiman Gracie in the next round, it was far from an impressive win. His showing against Lima was also poor. But we needed to see MacDonald in this type of tournament situation to determine where he is now in his career. It's clear after this showing that he's not the same fighter he was in the UFC. The fact that he nearly retired halfway through the tournament is proof of that.


We also saw that Page is not as good as advertised. He was unbeaten heading into the tournament, but Bellator really spoon-fed Page his opponents over the last five years. That type of matchmaking didn't help when he stepped up in competition, fought Lima, and got smoked. We thought Page might be something really special, and he still could be, but the tournament showed that right now he's an average fighter who has a lot of holes in his game. But at least we were able to find that out.

We also found out that Paul Daley still has gas left in the tank, and that Fitch isn't done just yet. We found out Koreshkov isn't a true contender anymore. We found out Ed Ruth is good, but still has improvements to make. And we found out Gracie is a solid fighter who still needs to round out his game. We learned a ton, and most of the fights were filled with exciting action. Those eight fighters all combined to put on a show over the course of the past year, and as an MMA fan, you have to agree that Bellator put together a solid tournament overall.


If Bellator did want to change something for its future tournaments, it would be to hopefully book the fights closer together. That doesn't appear to be the case for the upcoming featherweight tournament, but hopefully the promotion does try to do so in the future and conclude it in a shorter period of time. Of course, Bellator can look at the way this tournament played out and find other potential areas of improvement, but ultimately, it was a success. Lima did great and proved he's the best welterweight on the Bellator roster. And at the end of the day, that's exactly what the tournament was supposed to

Bellator 232
Rory MacDonald vs. Douglas Lima 2 (WW Championship) (WW Grand Prix final): Douglas Lima def. Rory MacDonald via unanimous decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45).

Bellator 232: MacDonald vs. Lima 2 took place October 26, 2019 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Click HERE for more Bellator 232 Post-Fight Analysis


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