Scott Coker announces Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix for 2023
Bellator keeps their Grand Prix system going, and the next one is among the best ever.
Speaking on Wednesday on MMA hourBellator CEO Scott Coker has announced that the promotion will hold a lightweight grand prix in 2023.
“If you look at our roster, I think it’s the best roster I’ve ever had at Bellator, and it’s taken us about four or five years to get here,” Coker said. “We have a lot of young kids that I’m super high on, and we have 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 for next year one of the things these guys have to consider is that it will probably be our 155lb tournament next year.
“So some of the fighters might want to stick around and stay a little heavier to try and get that $1 million bonus cash prize that we’re giving out at the end of the tournament.”
Bellator has raced five Grands Prix in recent years, but has yet to make one in arguably its most storied division. And while Coker says they haven’t decided who the eight fighters guaranteed a spot in the tournament will be, the promotion has no shortage of options.
“We’re going to go for it and it’s going to be amazing,” Coker said. “I’m telling you, when I saw Musayev fight in Japan in 2019 and he beat Patricky, I thought, ‘This kid is really good. Then we had the opportunity to sign him with Usman. Javier [Mendez, American Kickboxing Academy coach] told me Usman was going to win the tournament and Javier rarely cheats on me. But these kids are going to have their hands full.
“I think it’s going to be an amazing tournament. Brent Primus will be there. We haven’t decided who the eight fighters will be, but if AJ [McKee] decides he likes to fight at 155, he will definitely get an invitation to step in. And if he wants to go back to 145, that’s fine. But it will be an amazing tournament next year.
The promotion is currently finishing up two other ongoing grand prix – the light heavyweight tournament which was delayed due to a no-contest in the finals between Corey Anderson and Vadim Nemkov, and the bantamweight grand prix, semi-finals due to take place later this year. .
As such, Coker said he is aiming for an early 2023 launch for the lightweight tournament.
“We are going to finish our light heavyweight tournament in November, the [bantamweight] semi-finals in December,” Coker said. “I feel like we want to start this in February. February would be a good month and the bantamweight tournament [finals] somewhere in March.
The announcement of a lightweight tournament comes at a fortuitous time for Bellator as former 155-pound champion Eddie Alvarez recently parted ways with ONE Championship and said he was open to returning to his old stomping ground. .
Alvarez is a two-time Bellator lightweight champion, having originally won the belt in the promotion’s first-ever lightweight tournament final. He lost the belt to Michael Chandler in 2011 but reclaimed the title before leaving the promotion in 2014 to join the UFC.
One of the most accomplished lightweights of all time, Alvarez could be a huge boost for the eight-man Grand Prix, and as the promotion begins to lay the groundwork for next year, Coker says he is certainly open to the idea.
“You know where this business is going. We have a lot of veterans and a lot of great talent, but we have a lot of promising young fighters,” Coker said. “We’re investing a lot in this young talent, so when I originally thought of Eddie, I was like, ‘I like the roster where she’s at.
“But announcing the 155-pound tournament would be interesting. It’s worth a conversation. Eddie is a great guy. …I’m not saying it’s something we’ll pursue, but it’s at least worth a conversation at this point.