Bellator have announced a new television deal with Showtime, while also making official an impressively star-studded light-heavyweight grand-prix that will get underway in April.
Bellator boss Scott Coker knows Showtime well, having previously had a TV deal their during his time as Strikeforce’s head honcho, and it seems that that the network was eager to get back into the MMA business.
“We’ve been interested in MMA for quite a while,” Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza said. “We have a long history with MMA that goes back for 15 years to the dates of Elite XC and Strikeforce. We built some big names and stars: (Daniel) Cormier, (Luke) Rockhold, (Roda) Rousey, (Gilbert) Melendez and on and on. And of course, we’re the first to bring MMA to a national televised network and of course that was CBS way back in 2008. The time just felt right to combine forces Bellator has matured and elevated itself at a point where it now belongs in premium television network.”
During Strikeforce’s days on Showtime it really felt like they were building up a head of steam when they put together a heavyweight grand-prix that starred the likes of Daniel Cormier, Alistair Overeem, Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett.
Now Bellator will follow in those footsteps with an exciting 205lb grand-prix line-up that features a similarly impressive line-up of stars.
The most mouthwatering of the quarter-final match-ups that have been announced sees Bellator’s two new high-profile acquisitions from the UFC, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson and Yoel Romero, locking horns in their promotional debuts.
They are not putting all their eggs in one basket though, as the other quarter-final fights include Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader, Vadim Nemkov vs. Phil Davis and Corey Anderson vs. Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov.
These fights will take place over two weekends on Friday, April 9th and Friday, April 16th, while the semi-finals are penciled in for July and the final showdown goes down in October.