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Bellator announces Heavyweight Grand Prix matchups

By on November 29, 2017

UFC 135: Jones v RampageSay what you will about the 2018 Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix: it’s going to be interesting, one way or the other.

If you’re looking for a competitive field of top current heavyweights, you’re better off looking elsewhere. If you’re looking for up-and-coming potential superstars, you definitely should look elsewhere. Hell, if you even want to see a tournament consisting of eight heavyweights, you won’t find it in this tournament.

As with everything Bellator does that involves popular names from not-so-distant MMA history, though, there’s a certain appeal to its upcoming tournament. Sometimes it’s a bit liberating to go back to what seems like fights for the sake of fights without a second thought on whatever the stupid rankings say, right? And for good measure, let’s toss weight classes the fuck out of here, too. Chael Sonnen, you want to fight some heavyweights? Let’s do it!

All we need is the tournament to be a one-night event and at least one competitor whose main style is “ninjitsu,” and we’re in the ballpark of the golden days of MMA. Ahhhhh.

Forgive a crusty ol’ veteran for reminiscing for a moment and getting sidetracked. Here are the matchups for the opening round of the tournament:

Starting things off will be Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Chael Sonnen, who will face off in Los Angeles on Jan. 20. That’s right, Bellator is kicking off their heavyweight tournament with a fight between a light heavyweight and a middleweight. Why not?

A couple of actual heavyweights will follow up that matchup, as Matt Mitrione and Roy Nelson will fight in Connecticut on Feb. 16 in a matchup of former UFC heavyweights that lingered around the top ten but ultimately never figured into the title picture.

April will bring us a pretty compelling matchup between Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Mir. I mean, let’s be honest. This fight could turn out to be a shit-show, but Frank is one of the few remaining heavyweights that were relevant in the early 2000s that Fedor hasn’t faced. If Fedor can win, he’ll have toppled the three most notable UFC heavyweight champs from that time, albeit years after the fact.

The last first-round matchup will pair another couple of light heavyweights as Ryan Bader and “King Mo” Lawal will finally face off. Interestingly enough, Bader is the current Bellator light heavyweight champ, so if he loses here, you’ll not only have a 205-pound champ who just lost, but who lost to a follow light heavyweight. They should have hedged their bets by putting Bader against a heavyweight, so even if he lost, he’d still have a claim as the top light heavyweight in the company.

My thoughts? It’s one way of doing things, I guess. One thing that’s interesting is that the four legitimate heavyweights are all facing each other in the first round. It’s also kind of funny that the light heavyweight who always walks around extremely heavy (Rampage Jackson) is facing a guy who’s most qualified to fight at 185 (Chael Sonnen).

Perhaps the best part of this bracket is the fact that Chael Sonnen vs. Fedor Emelianenko or Frank Mir could actually happen. Who wouldn’t tune in to see those fights?

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