Bellator MMA Is Bouncing Back
The MMA scene has changed rapidly, every year the landscape changes into a better version of its previous self. The Ultimate Fighting Championship has achieved the ultimate goal of becoming the “Super Bowl of Mixed Martial Arts” which was the famous statement of a young man by the name of Dana White. At the time everybody thought was a bit of a stretch. Not many people in the Combat Sports world are laughing now. In fact promoters in the combat sports world are attempting to take what Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White did and in their own way keep some of the same principles while making it their own. MMA organizations like Bellator MMA and the new upstart Professional Fighters League have used the UFC as a bit of a launching pad to get their feet off the ground. The first event for the PFL is on June 7th at Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile Bellator MMA has been plugging along under former Strikeforce President (remember Strikeforce?) Scott Coker.
Coker has built a Bellator MMA into a brand that it can finally call its own. Furthermore not only can Bellator call themselves their own brand but they can be proud of what they have accomplished these last three years especially. Gone are the days of Bjorn Rebney who did nothing for the company but build bad relationships among the organization’s best fighters. Here and now are the days of Scott Coker leading the way and being someone who Bellator MMA fighter’s and Mixed Martial Arts fans around the world can respect.
At the end of the 2017 Bellator MMA announced that they FINALLY get the ball rolling in terms of their heavyweight division for a long time the division was stagnant and had no champion. Let’s wrap our minds around that for a fight promotion to have NO HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION? That doesn’t make much sense. Coker righted that wrong by creating an eight-man Bellator MMA Heavyweight Grand Prix featuring fighters that every MMA fan should know while also putting matchups together that were to say the least intriguing. The quarterfinals round featured Rampage Jackson vs Chael Sonnen, Matt Mitrione vs Roy Nelson, Fedor vs Frank Mir, and Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader vs King Mo Lawal. Coker gave us fights that the majority of MMA fan’s out there wanted to see and it is safe to say they not only delivered but they produced and the final outcome of the quarterfinals was the outcome that they wanted whether Bellator wants to admit it or not is another story but the outcome nonetheless was and is perfection.
In the semi-final round we have Fedor vs Chael Sonnen a fight that could easily headline a Pay-Per-View despite the fact that both Fedor and Chael might be a bit older, the promotion for the fight will be unlike anything we have seen in quite sometime. Chael Sonnen twice a contender at Middleweight and once a contender at Light Heavyweight has advanced in the Heavyweight tournament with an eye opening performance vs Quinton Jackson. Fedor who is considered one of the best MMA fighters of all-time notched his first finish in six years with a :48 second knockout over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir and here we are. I don’t know if I am ready to predict this fight just yet because I am that enamored with the promotion that I am about to witness I just want to savor that and enjoy that for a little while. Also we have Ryan Bader vs Matt Mitrione a fight that features a Light Heavyweight Champion and a man who probably should have already been the Heavyweight Champion in Bellator. Initially those on the MMA Beat stated that Bellator was going to Fedor vs Matt Mitrione togeter at Bellator NYC for the Bellator Heavyweight title. That didn’t happen but the fight did and as Mitrione and Fedor landed the same punch at the same time Mitrione didn’t get cracked as hard and was able to finish Fedor via ground and pound. So had Bellator went that route of making that fight a title fight Mitrione would have been crowned the Heavyweight Champion which would have been great for him and the brand but I think this topic is really what Bellator MMA needed. A tournament. Bringing back these tournaments has been something every MMA fan has enjoyed because it takes the rankings, politics, and matchmaking completely out of the picture and just allows the fighters to do what they are supposed to do. Fight.
If I were to pick a favorite for the tourney I would have to lean towards Ryan Bader being that he already has a title already and he just came off a devastating knockout victory vs King Mo who is no slouch might I add. As fun as it is to pick and predict I just want to enjoy this moment and say to myself “Bellator has bounced back”.
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