Bellator is finally going to have a Heavyweight Champion in 2018, and they're taking an interesting method to do so.
The company has confirmed that they'll hold an 8-man heavyweight tournament, consisting of huge names in the promotion to determine their first champion in years.
“This is going to be something that’s iconic for us,” Coker said to USA Today. “Tournaments, traditionally, are kind of the way martial arts contests happen. Now we get to put eight iconic brand names in our sport together over a year, and then whoever wins will be crowned the heavyweight champion. I think there are certain fights that people want to see. Believe me, we’re going to have some amazing matchups in this tournament. These fights that we’re going to put together are something that the fans want to see. These are iconic names, big brands.”
Bellator also announced the field, which you can see below.
Fedor Emelianenko: (36-5, 1 NC) PRIDE, WAMMA Champion. Victories over Andrei Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro Cop, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Kevin Randleman, Mark Hunt, Heath Herring, Babalu Sobral, Ricardo Arona.
Frank Mir: (18-11): Two time UFC Heavyweght Champion. Wins over Brock Lesnar, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Mirko Crocop, Bigfoot Silva, Tim Sylvia.
Chael Sonnen: (30-15-1) "Uncrowned" WEC Middleweight Champion after defeating Paulo Filho. Wins over Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua.
King Mo Lawal: (21-6, NC) Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Victories over Rampage Jackson, Linton Vassell, Cheick Kongo.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson: (37-12) UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Wins over King Mo Lawal, Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Kevin Randleman.
Ryan Bader: (24-5) Current Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion. Victories over Phil Davis, Antonio Rogerio Noguiera, Linton Vassell, OSP, Rashad Evans, Rampage Jackson.
Roy Nelson: (23-14) TUF Season 10 Winner. Wins over Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Bigfoot Silva, Mirko CroCop, Matt Mitrione, Stefan Struve, Brendan Schaub, Kimbo Slice, Justin Wren.
Matt Mitrione: (12-5) Victories over Fedor, Derrick Lewis, Kimbo Slice, Gabriel Gonzaga.
Bellator has had a tough time keeping heavyweight champions historically. Vitaly Minakov was stripped of the Bellator Heavyweight Championship in 2016, and hasn't fought for them since 2014, despite fighting overseas six times at that point. Cole Konrad also retired from MMA as champion at only 28 years old.
There will be a tournament draw coming soon. You can see a Fightful.com video news update on the situation above.