Bellator has changed up the process of securing a championship match, placing a new previous tournament winner clause into action.
In a release, officials stated that any previous tournament winner can now earn a world title fight. This was the case earlier this year when Michael Chandler earned a rematch with Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title, despite not taking the typical Bellator tournament path.
“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,” Bellator CEO Bjorn 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.”
Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima is one fighter who could take advantage of the new deal, as he is still awaiting a tournament final to take place to crown a No. 1 contender to his belt.
“At the end of the day, everyone wants to see guys they know stay busy and active,” Lima 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.”
Several fighters are now available for title fights in various division.
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*, Rampage Jackson, King Mo, Christian M’Pumbu, Atilla Vegh,
Heavyweight: Vitaly Minakov*, Alexander Volkov, Cheick Kongo
*Denotes Current Bellator Champion or Interim Champion