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Morning Report: Scott Coker says Bellator is considering a featherweight Grand Prix for October

Scott Coker post-Bellator 138

Buckle up because it looks like Bellator has some big Grand Prix plans in the future.

Last month, Bellator’s first Grand Prix came to a conclusion when Ryan Bader knocked out Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 214 to claim the heavyweight title. It was the culmination of an endeavor that had been incredibly successful for Bellator and, according to Scott Coker, they feel great about how everything turned out considering the risks involved with hosting a tournament in MMA.

“I tell ya, you have to knock on wood because usually an injury happens or something gets pushed back or something happens like you can’t get the date or you can’t get the TV [deal],” Coker told MMAFighting recently. “Nobody got hurt. The tournament unfolded in a one year period which is exactly what we want and sometimes you get lucky. With the welterweight tournament, it’s the same thing.”

Bellator made its bones with an eight-man tournament structure, hosting yearly tournaments in multiple weight classes to crown champions and contenders. But when Scott Coker took over as Bellator president in June 2014, he got rid of the tournament structure that Bellator had been operating under and returned the organization to a traditional method of fight promotion. But the Heavyweight Grand Prix was such a triumph for Bellator that they started a Welterweight Grand Prix last year and that event has already gotten such positive feedback that Coker says he’s had to reconsidered their stance on tournaments ,and that going forward, Bellator will run one Grand Prix a year.

“The tournament format, everybody understands,” Coker said. “I love the tournament format because that’s how I grew up doing martial arts. When I was working for K-1 I loved watching the Grand Prix unfold and then at the end of the year they had the big event. So single elimination events make a lot of sense for us.

“What I learned is that we should always have a tournament at some point in the year. Bellator will run tournament in one weight class per year. We don’t want to do two or three or four different tournaments. And we’ll throw tournaments when we have eight fighters that are brand names already, that people already know that we can put together. That’s been the formula and it’s worked so we’re going to continue doing it.”

Of course, that begs the question, what division is next for a Grand Prix? And though they haven’t made any official decisions just yet, Coker has his eyes on a Featherweight GP starting at the end of the year that would feature some of the best talent currently in Bellator.

“There’s a lot of dialogue about different weight classes,” Coker said. “We haven’t 100 percent said which division but I believe that come October we will probably roll out a new tournament in a different weight class. We’ve talked about the pros and cons of different weight classes but I think that the one that sounds the most attractive to me is the featherweight division.

“You have the Pitbulls [Patricio Freire] and you have the A.J. McKees, [James] Gallagher could come up, Darrion Caldwell could come up, and [Aaron] Pico is in that weight class, [Henry] Corrales, [Emmanuel] Sanchez - we just have so many great fighters in that weight class that I think it makes sense.”

Featherweight is one of the most talent rich divisions in Bellator. Aside from the fighters mentioned by Coker, there is Leandro Higo, Tywan Claxton, Gaston Bolanos, Adam Boricz, Noad Lahat, Sam Sicilia, among others. And at least one of these fighters is ready to go.

Here’s to hoping it happens.


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MMA quadruple header weekend incoming. Not often we get four events in one weekend so try to pace yourselves and enjoy the fights.

Thanks for reading and see y’all on Monday.



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