Nelson, Lashley, Kongo, Mir, Fedor, Minakov? What's up with Bellator's heavyweight title?

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Filed under: Bellator, News

Despite some established veterans and recent additions, Bellator still doesn’t have a heavyweight champion. Could that soon change?

On Friday at Bellator 185, Bellator President Scott Coker was asked about the title, which was left vacant after Vitaly Minakov was stripped of the belt in May 2016 due to inactivity.

However, Minakov (20-0 MMA, 5-0 BMMA), a 32-year-old Russian, remains under contract with Bellator, though his past six fights have come outside of the organization. Still, he could be in the mix when the organization finally crowns a new titleholder.

“Minakov is not our champion anymore,” Coker said. “Minakov, as far as I’m concerned, is a fighter that’s under contract for Bellator, but to me, it’s almost irrelevant at this point because we have so many great heavyweight fights now, that when we put this heavyweight title fight together it’s going to be something really special.”

Minakov, though, isn’t the only candidate. The organization has some signed some notable recent additions, including former UFC champion Frank Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA), former UFC contender Roy Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA), surging Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) and Cheick Kongo (27-10-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA), who’s been a Bellator staple since moving over from the UFC in 2013.

You’ve got also got MMA great Fedor Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA), who recently made his promotional debut, and an assortment of others, including fan favorite Justin Wren (13-2 MMA, 3-0 BMMA), upstart Tyrell Fortune (3-0 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) and Augusto Sakai (9-1-1 MMA, 4-1-1 BMMA). There’s also former WWE star and amateur-wrestling standout Bobby Lashley (15-2 MMA, 5-0 BMMA).

“Bobby, we’ve been talking to him,” Coker said. “I know he’s been very busy with his pro wrestling and his kids, so I’m not sure what his status is. But I think he’s not going o be fighting anytime before the end of the year.”

So, what’s the next move, with or without Lashley? Could a champ be crowned soon?

“The heavyweight title, I think first quarter (of 2018), going into the second quarter, we’ll do something big as far as having a heavyweight championship fight,” he said. “I think crowning a champion, it’s kind of becoming clearer who we’re probably going to have fight.

“That’s something I don’t want to talk about that much now, but we’ll talk about and in the upcoming weeks we’ll have something for you guys.”

For more on the Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, News
Source: MMA Junkie

Scott Coker open to Bellator heavyweight tournament but wants to crown champion first

With a new influx of talent, and an unclaimed championship belt, Bellator’s heavyweight division is ripe for a tournament.

Bellator President Scott Coker, no stranger to the format, likes the idea of pairing the division’s baddest big guys against each other. But he said a new champion will be crowned before that happens.

“I think we will have some more fights, see how these guys fare, and then we can talk about something like that,” Coker today told MMAjunkie.

Coker said a matchup between Roy Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) and Matt Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) “makes a lot of sense” as a fight for the title, though he also mentioned the surging Cheick Kongo (27-10-2 MMA, 9-2 BMMA) as a potential contender.

“I’d like to crown a heavyweight champ in the first part of (2018),” Coker said.

As UFC heavyweights, the trio are very familiar with each other. Nelson beat Mitrione and Kongo in succession, while Mitrione outpointed Kongo.

Kongo is the most experienced in the Bellator cage with 11 appearances, including a failed bid for the title against Vitaly Minakov, who left a void in the division when the promotion stripped him for inactivity.

Mitrione, meanwhile, joined the fold in March 2016 and has won three straight, with a June knockout of Fedor Emelianenko marking his most recent appearance.

This past Saturday, Nelson made a successful debut with a decision over Jay Ayala at Bellator 183. Before stepping into the cage, Nelson suggested a tournament would be the best way to establish a pecking order.

Coker has held several high-profile tournaments as the head of the now-defunct Strikeforce, including a one-night middleweight tournament in 2007 and the highly hyped Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight tournament in 2011. But he shifted away from the format after taking the reigns at Bellator in 2014, emphasizing super fights and “tentpole” events over the tournament format favored by previous Bellator chief Bjorn Rebney.

Coker isn’t opposed to the idea of crowning a heavyweight tournament champ, as he did for the Strikeforce grand prix. But in Bellator, he first wants to establish a champion to challenge a tournament winner.

For more on Bellator’s upcoming schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Bellator, Featured, News
Source: MMA Junkie