With the rave reviews Bellator has received for its ongoing heavyweight grand prix, the company decided to try another one, as president Scott Coker officially announced on Tuesday that a 10-man welterweight grand prix will begin at Bellator 206 on Sept. 29 from the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif., airing exclusively on DAZN.
The card will be headlined by middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi putting his middleweight title on the line against welterweight champ Rory MacDonald.
“This is truly the best welterweight division in the planet,” Coker said at Tuesday’s DAZN event in New York. “We have best fighters in that division, better than any other league. They are all going to get it on and it’s going to be live on DAZN on September 29.”
DAZN: There’s a new way to watch fight sports – find out more
The tournament begins with a trilogy fight between former welterweight champion Douglas Lima taking on another former welterweight champion in Andrey Koreshkov.
Additional fights in the tournament include Jon Fitch taking on Neiman Gracie and Ed Ruth against Yaroslav Amosov. Rising prospect Michael “Venom” Page and Lorenz Larkin were announced as well, but their opponents weren’t announced at this time. The 10-fighter tournament will play out over the next year exclusively on DAZN.
MacDonald is also in the tournament and will make his debut in 2019. Other names will be revealed at a later date.
Lima (29-7) is a two-time welterweight champion. He won the title from Rick Hawn at Bellator 117 but lost it to Koreshkov in his first title defense at Bellator 140. He won the title back in the rematch via thrid-round TKO at Bellator 164 on Nov. 10, 2016. He defended the belt one time before losing to MacDonald at Bellator 192 in January.
Since losing the title to Lima, Koreshkov (21-2) has reeled off two straight wins, finishing Chidi Njokuani and Vaso Bakocevic via strikes.
Fitch (31-7-1, 1 no contest) enters the grand prix riding a five-fight winning streak, including his Bellator debut, a unanimous decision win over Daley at Bellator 199.
Neiman Gracie (8-0) is a fourth generation member of the famed jiu-jitsu Gracie family. He won six consecutive fights under the Viacom-owned promotion. Most recently, Gracie submitted Javier Torres in the second round at Bellator 198.
DAZN: Win tickets to a major fight – find out how
Ruth (6-0) won three straight NCAA wrestling championships for Penn State from 2012 to 2014. He signed with Bellator in 2015 and made his debut Dustin Collins-Miles at Bellator 163 in Nov. 2016. Ruth fought at June’s Bellator 201, beating Andy Murad by second-round TKO.
Page is undefeated in 13 fights, with 11 of those wins coming by stoppage. His electric style is one to behold, as he can finish opponents from any position inside the cage. He last fought at Bellator 200 in May, winning by second-round TKO against David Rickels.
Larkin (19-7, 1 no contest) joined Bellator in March 2017. He received a title shot against Lima at Bellator NYC, but came up short, losing by unanimous decision. Larkin will enter the tournament with some momentum, earning a unanimous decision nod over Fernando Gonzalez in his last fight on Jan. 28.