You know how Bellator MMA is completely obsessed with tournaments? Well, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has just upped the ante for tourney victors.
Effective immediately, past and future winners of their division’s tournaments are permanently eligible to get a title shot without having to win another tournament.
“Just like we’ve done since day one, any fighter who wins ‘The Toughest Tournament in Sports’ will still be guaranteed a world title fight,” Rebney said. “The addition I’m making here, that I’m really excited about, is if you’ve won a tournament, you’ll join an elite group of athletes who we can grant a world title fight to at any time.
“For example, if you win a tournament, fight for the world title and lose, you forever remain in that elite group of fighters who can be awarded another shot at the title. We will place some fighters back into tournaments, while others may lose a world title fight, win some non-tournament fights and be awarded another shot at the title. We won’t be implementing any hard and fast rule as to when a fighter will go back into a tournament and when he’ll fight non-tournament fights and potentially be granted another title shot. What’s great about this addition is that it allows us to stay true to our core format, where title shots can only be earned through a tournament win, while also providing us tremendous flexibility to make the great fights fans want to see. And, we can do all this while keeping our fighters busy and battling in meaningful fights on a re-occurring basis. This is another step in our constant evolution and most importantly it’s a win for the fighters and the fans.”
Multiple title tilts have been postponed in the past for various reasons, primarily injury, but Bellator’s latest tweak to their structure will allow champions and top contenders to remain active.
“At the end of the day, everyone wants to see guys they know stay busy and active,” Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima (pictured) said. “As fighters we want to stay busy and keep fighting, and this new change helps keep the talent pool fresh and creates new challengers for us. I know the tournament isn’t going anywhere, it’s how we all came up and got our titles, but now we have a chance to keep staying busy and keep defending our titles.”
Here is the current pool of Bellator fighters who are forever eligible for title bouts:
Bantamweight: Eduardo Dantas*, Joe Warren*, Marcos Galvao, Rafael Silva
Featherweight: Pat Curran*, Patricio Pitbull, Daniel Straus, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, “Frodo” Khasbulaev, Daniel Weichel, Joe Warren.
Lightweight: Eddie Alvarez*, Will Brooks*, Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Rick Hawn, Dave Jansen, David Rickels
Welterweight: Douglas Lima*, Karl Amoussou, Andrey Koreshkov, Rick Hawn
Middleweight: Alexander Shlemenko*, Brennan Ward, Doug Marshall
Light Heavyweight: Emanuel Newton*, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Christian M’Pumbu, Atilla Vegh,
Heavyweight: Vitaly Minakov*, Alexander Volkov, Cheick Kongo
* – Current Bellator champion or interim champion