The original version of the Bellator brand was built on the back of frequent tournaments. The fight philosophy has shifted in the past few years after Scott Coker took over as company president, but this year, the promotion is revisiting its roots.
The Bellator heavyweight grand prix kicks off at Bellator 192 on Jan. 20, when Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) and Quinton Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) compete in the first quarterfinal/opening-round matchup of the single-elimination tournament. The winner at the end of the eight-man bracket will be crowned Bellator heavyweight champion.
Coker is very familiar with tournaments, going all the way back to his time as a kickboxing promotor in the 1990s. He also put on a notable MMA heavyweight tournament under the now-defunct Strikeforce banner in 2010. Coker doesn’t plan to make tournaments a common occurrence, but if the timing is right, he said there could be more to come.
“We’re going to leave that door open,” Coker said on Wednesday’s Bellator 192 media conference call. “This kind of happened in an organic fashion. We started signing all these guys, and pretty soon we were like, ‘Oh, we have our lineup here.’ It made a lot of sense.
“Then fighting for the belt at the end, I think is really going to be a special event for the year. We’re going to have these storylines all year.”
Coker said the fact the Bellator heavyweight title has been vacant for nearly two years made the grand prix a natural fit. Having big names such as Sonnen, “Rampage,” Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir, Ryan Bader and other available notables was too difficult to resist, Coker said.
Despite the excitement around the tournament, Coker said there’s no desire to make it an annual occurrence. He intends to follow his natural instincts as a fight promoter, and if an appropriate situation arises again in the future, he’ll pull the trigger.
“There are a couple of divisions where I could see us (doing another tournament),” Coker said. “Maybe next year or the year after, but it’s not something we’re going to be in the business of having to do a tournament every year. This made a lot of sense, but we will keep that open.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Bellator boss Scott Coker keeping 'door open' for future grand prix tournaments