Bellator MMA is gearing up for their upcoming heavyweight title tournament.
The promotion will host an eight-man heavyweight tournament known as the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018. The winner of this tournament will earn the vacant Bellator title.
Bellator has been without a heavyweight champion since the title was vacated by then-champ Vitaly Minakov after Bellator decided to strip him of it in May of 2016 for failing to defend the title.
MMA Legend Fedor Emelianenko will compete in the tournament, and his first round bout will be against former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir. Emelianenko is coming off a knockout loss to Matt Mitrione in Bellator’s inaugural event at Madison Square Garden last year.
Bellator President Scott Coker thinks this tournament is the perfect setting for the MMA Legend. He made it known during a recent interview with Kevin Iole. Coker explained why he thinks this by stating that it’s due to the competitors Fedor is slated to face if he advances through the tournament.
“When you talk about heavyweights, like with Mitrione, they both punch each other in the face, knock each other down, Mitrione got up a little faster . . . and then he finished Fedor,” said Coker (transcript courtesy of MMA Fighting). “But it could easily went the other way. Yes, guys that are fighting into their thirties should not be fighting 21-year-old kids like he was doing in the past but this is the perfect tournament for him.
“He wanted to come in. He said to me – through Jerry, the translator – I know that this is the fourth quarter for me and I want to compete, and I would love to be Bellator’s heavyweight world champion. When Fedor asks you that, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna say no? You have to say yes so we did and we gave him that respect and he’s gonna have an equal shot just like everybody else.”
“If you look at him and Frank Mir, Frank Mir’s coming off some losses, Fedor’s coming off some losses. This is kind of an equal fight in my mind and it’s gonna be great.”
Emelianenko found success in Pride and is arguably the greatest heavyweight fighter of all-time. However, over the past few years, he has landed on tough times. He retired back in 2012 but came back three years later.
“I believe that he hasn’t decided yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if he fought the tournament out and won the tournament, that he would retire the tournament champion and the heavyweight champion,” said Coker. “What a way to have a great send off.
“Or if he loses the first fight to Frank Mir and gets stopped, he might call it a day too.”