Bellator MMA has made a successful run hitherto by essentially setting itself apart from the pack with its tournament format. There has always been one inherent issue, however, as champions are almost rarely afforded the opportunity to defend their title due to having to wait for the tournaments to run their course.
Looking at the list of titleholders, one can find the case of Christian M’Pumbu, who has yet to defend the light heavyweight championship he won in May of 2011, competing just once in that time. In October of that year, the champion suffered a unanimous decision loss to Travis Wiuff in a superfight at Bellator 55. Then you have Brazilian dynamo Eduardo Dantas, who holds the bantamweight strap as of last April. “Dudu” took a fight in Shooto this past August that saw him suffer a nasty knockout at the hands of Tyson Nam.
With the coming move the Spike TV and the addition of more tournaments per-season, Bjorn Rebney told MMA Frenzy on Tuesday that this situation has been resolved and will no longer be an issue going forward. “Super fights and fights outside of the organization are a thing of the past,” said the Bellator CEO when asked about the additional tournaments.
Rebney also spoke about the recent addition of Bellator Championship rematches, using the season 8 debut on Spike TV, which takes place this Thursday at the UCI Bren Events Center in Irvine, California, as a hypothetical example of what can come for champions going forward. “If Chandler vs. Hawn is the fight we think it could be, you could potentially see a rematch right out of the gate, and the winner of Marcin Held vs. Dave Jansen would still be in line for their shot.”
The formula is simple, more tournaments plus the possibility of rematches equals more title fights.
According to the CEO, this was always the goal. “My focus was to get us into a position where we could do world championship defenses 2, 3, 4 times per-year, depending on injuries.… Our champions will be defending very regularly and on a consistent basis, because we have all the tournaments we need now.”
The change in the format has already begun to become apparent as there are already multiple challengers lined-up at lightweight, featherweight, and welterweight, with more to be determined in the coming season. Essentially, this is what’s best for Bellator titleholders as there has always been a very clear drop off in fight frequency from the tournaments to championship defenses. As a fan and promoter, Rebney is thrilled with the prospect, as he completed his statement by saying, “It’s the format I had in my head many years ago, and this is the way it was supposed to work.”