Two of the biggest talkers in the sport will face off in the first round of the Bellator MMA Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, announced Tuesday along with the rest of the first round fights and locations.
On January 20th at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA, Chael Sonnen will face former UFC light heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson to kick off the tournament as part of the undercard of Rory MacDonald vs. welterweight champion Douglas Lima. The show will go head-to-head with UFC 220 from Boston, MA.
Announced earlier this month, four heavyweights and four light heavyweights moving up in weight class will compete in the Grand Prix tournament with the winner becoming the new Bellator heavyweight champion.
A month after Sonnen/Rampage, Matt Mitrione will look to keep his win streak going against Roy Nelson at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena in February 2018. This will be a rematch of their December 2012 UFC TUF finale encounter.
In April at Chicago’s Allstate Arena, Fedor Emelianenko will try to turn back time one last time against Frank Mir who will be making his Bellator debut after being released by the UFC while under suspension by USADA.
Finally, the first round wraps up in May at San Jose, CA’s, SAP Center with light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader moving up in weight to face “King” Mo Lawal, a fight originally scheduled to happen at the promotion’s NYC show this year.
Dates and locations for the semifinals and finals weren’t announced, nor were alternates in case of injury. Sonnen vs. Jackson will air on the Paramount Network, the soon-to-be renamed Spike TV, but it’s unclear as to whether all fights will be on free TV. Depending on how 2018 plays out, the finals could be on the company’s return to PPV.