While Bellator MMA has already made plans for its eight-man welterweight tournament, there’s still the matter of finishing up the heavyweight Grand Prix, which has reached the semifinal stage.
On one side of the bracket, Fedor Emelianenko is scheduled to take on former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen in one of the highest profile bouts in Bellator MMA history. The winner of that matchup will advance to the final to take on either Ryan Bader or Matt Mitrione, so it is very possible to see two longtime light heavyweights (Sonnen and Bader) vie for the vacant Bellator heavyweight title soon.
When can we expect to see these semifinals? According to Scott Coker, they’re looking at mid-October.
“We’re trying to keep it in close proximity,” Coker told MMAjunkie. “I want both of the semifinals to happen close together.”
Coker revealed that it’s possible those fights could be staged on back-to-back nights. One would assume that could mean a Friday night show on Paramount Network/DAZN, while the other one would be exclusive to DAZN on Saturday night. Bellator recently signed a five-year broadcast deal with the subscription streaming service, which plans to launch in September. The first DAZN-only card for Bellator will include Gegard Mousasi vs. Rory MacDonald, Rampage Jackson vs. Wanderlei Silva IV, plus a welterweight tournament quarterfinal matchup.
Fedor knocked out Frank Mir in his quarterfinal showdown in April, giving him his first win under the Bellator banner. Sonnen bested Rampage by decision to kick off the tournament in January. Meanwhile, current Bellator LHW champion Bader knocked out Muhammed Lawal in 15 seconds in May, while Mitrione eked out a split decision over Roy Nelson in February.
More details on the tournament dates and venues will be revealed in the coming weeks. Chicago is currently in the running to host Emelianenko vs. Sonnen.