Bellator Will Host 8-Man Tournament For Heavyweight Crown

After more than three years, Bellator will finally crown a heavyweight champion.

In 2018, an eight-man tournament stacked with legends and fan-favorites will decide the baddest man in Bellator.

Former PRIDE champion  and arguable greatest heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, will face off against UFC heavyweight veterans like Frank Mir, Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione. Former UFC Lightheavyweights Ryan Bader and Quinton Jackson will also be competing and trailing them, Middleweights  Muhammed Lawal and Chael Sonnen.

Bellator is hoping to kick off the tournament in Jan. 20 and expects to crown a champion by the end of 2018.

Some of these prospective competitors have met in the cage before. Emelianenko returned to MMA after a long hiatus in June, losing to Mitrione via knockout. That win boosted Mitrione’s Bellator record to 3-0.

Nelson has recently created momentum with wins in Bellator, while Mir waits to be eligible to return to competition after serving a two-year USADA suspension. The suspension ends on April 7.

Bader has won nine of his last 10 MMA fights, a retinue including victories over names like Phil Davis Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ovince Saint Preux and Rashad Evans. He is 2-0 since joining Bellator in 2017, and is one of their most recent acquisitions from the UFC.

Chale Sonnen defeated longtime his rival Wanderlei Silva via unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden in June.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, just signed a new multi-fight deal with Bellator. His most recent fight was a in a heavyweight bout with “King Mo” Lawal in March, in which he lost a unanimous decision and a win streak which had been at five.

Lawal has competed multiple times as a heavyweight over the past few years, defeating the likes of Satoshi Ishii and Cheick Kongo. He is widely considered one of the best wrestlers in MMA.

This tournament should bring some welcome excitement to Bellator. Although they have never possessed the talent or polish of the UFC roster, their resources and pool of star fighters has been growing. More and more fans are looking to Bellator to deliver exciting, high-level fights, and this heavyweight tournament will undoubtedly being even more attention to the waxing organization.

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