Bellator President and CEO Scott Coker revealed the promotion's plans to hold another World Grand Prix tournament in 2023, this time in their lightweight division.
Coker spoke with journalist Ariel Helwani on the latest edition of his show The MMA Hour on Wednesday and explained why given the amount of talent they've now got under their banner at 155-pounds, the timing seems perfect to hold a tournament in that division.
“If you look at our roster, I think this is the best roster I’ve ever had at Bellator, and it’s taken us about four or five years to get here,” Coker said (h/t MMA Fighting). “We’ve got a lot of young kids I’m super high on, and we’ve got a lot of good veterans, but if you look at our 155-pound weight class, with [Tofiq] Musayev, and Usman Nurmagomedov, and [Patricky] Pitbull, and Benson Henderson — who is coming off a great win over Peter Queally — I think going into next year, one of the things these guys need to consider is that probably will be our 155-pound tournament next year. So some of the fighters might want to stick around and stay a little heavier to try and go after that prize money of $1 million bonus that we give out at the end of the tournament. We’re going to get it on and it’s going to be amazing. I’m telling you when I saw Musayev fight in Japan in ‘19, and he beat Patricky, I was like, ‘This kid is really good.’ Then we got the opportunity to sign him and Usman. Javier [Mendez, American Kickboxing Academy coach] told me Usman’s going to win the tournament and Javier rarely steers me wrong. But these kids are going to have their hands full. I think it’s going to be an amazing tournament. Brent Primus will be in the mix. We haven’t decided who the eight fighters are going to be, but if A.J. [McKee] decides he likes fighting at 155, he’ll definitely get an invitation to step up. And if he wants to go back to 145, that’s fine. But it’s going to be an amazing tournament next year.”
He continued on to say that Bellator is planning on launching its lightweight tournament next February.
“We’re going to finish our light heavyweight tournament in November, the [bantamweight] semifinals in December,” Coker said. “I feel like we want to set this off in February. February would be a good month and the bantamweight tournament [finals] sometime in March.”