First off, the big news for this season is that all Bellator shows will finally be live for everyone thanks to its deal with MTV2. The second and third seasons were available live on Fox Sports Net, but without consistency, as Bellator was at the mercy of local FSN affiliates.
On this upcoming 12-week season, four eight-man tournaments are being featured in the featherweight, lightweight, welterweight and light heavyweight divisions. In addition to a $100,000 grand prize for the division winners, they will also each receive a title shot, except for the light heavyweight winner, who will be crowned the first-ever Bellator 205-lb. champion.
Welterweight Tournament Roster Near Completion
Since Bellator just began announcing tournament participants earlier this month and its strategy is to announce tournament participants one-by-one leading up to the premiere, only the welterweight tournament roster has been out in the open.
Official on the welterweight side are season three finalist Dan Hornbuckle, judo black belt Jim Wallhead, undefeated Chris Lozano, prospect Brent Weedman, 2004 judo Olympian Rick Hawn and former Bellator champion Lyman Good. The final two spots are expected to be formally announced next week, one of which will certainly be Strikeforce and UFC veteran Jay Hieron. The other will most likely be Steve Carl, a season three entrant who earned a future tournament spot with a win in August.
New Faces of Bellator
Bellator made some notable off-season acquisitions, bringing in the aforementioned Hieron, former WEC champion "Razor" Rob McCullough, middleweight journeyman Joe Riggs and PRIDE veteran Daniel Gracie. Another new face to keep an eye on is Poland's Marcin Held, who at only 18 years of age, has already amassed a 10-1 pro record. Bellator has also signed Patricky "Pitbull" Freire, the brother of season three featherweight finalist Patricio "Pitbull" Freire.
One can expect all the titleholders to either make a title defenses and/or take part in a superfight depending on if there's a respectable challenger for the belt. The current titleholders are heavyweight Cole Konrad, middleweight Hector Lombard, welterweight Ben Askren, lightweight Eddie Alvarez, featherweight Joe Warren, bantamweight Zach Makovsky and women's 115-pounder Zoila Frausto. Of the seven titleholders, only Lombard has made a single title defense.
Many of last season's Bellator competitors, including favorites such as Toby Imada, Wilson Reis and Georgi Karakhanyan, will also be back.
Raphael Davis, 2-0 in Bellator and 10-1 overall, is expected to take part in the light heavyweight tournament.
Ron Sparks, an undefeated heavyweight probably most known for being matched up with Bobby Lashley at one point, made a one-shot appearance for Bellator last season and during the off-season inked an extended deal with the promotion.