Bellator recently announced they’ll be running a star-studded heavyweight grand-prix in 2018 and now they’ve unveiled the opening round match-ups.
The tournament will begin with a fight between Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Chael Sonnen at Bellator 192 on January 192.
Thats a fight that ‘Rampage’ had recently campaigned hard to avoid, so he’s likely to be less than thrilled with the fact that it’s now official.
“Why would Bellator want to me against another wrestler right off the bat?” Jackson asked on The MMA Hour show earlier this month. “Honestly, I would say that wouldn’t be a matchup I’d be looking forward to, and I would be upset coming into the Bellator contract fresh off the bat and them giving me a wrestler to be honest. Who wants to see me fight another wrestler, why wouldn’t a promoter have a guy like me who loves to stand and bang and have exciting fights, why would a promoter constantly want to keep putting me with wrestlers?”
Next up in the grand-prix will be a fight between Roy Nelson and Matt Mitrione that takes place on February 16th.
Then its on to a previously confirmed bout between Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir in April.
Rounding off the opening stage of the tournament will be a fight between current Bellator 205lb champion Ryan Bader and Muhammed ‘King Mo’ Lawal.
The winners will then go on to fight each other in the final stages of the tournament later in the year.
Bellator 2018 Heavyweight Grand-Prix Opening Round:
Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson Vs Chael Sonnen
Matt Mitrione Vs Roy Nelson
Fedor Emelianenko Vs Frank Mir
Ryan Bader Vs King Mo