Matchmaking’s like casting a movie. You pick who you think will sell tickets and you put them in the starring role. Since I created Bellator in 2008, I’ve focused on strengthening our position as MMA’s real sports competition. And, it’s crucial for us to stay true to our brand history and philosophy.
At the same time, it’s critical to have a system in place that ensures our Champions defend their titles as frequently as possible. If we just picked who fights who, this would be a simple process. If a title challenger gets injured we could just give the fight to whoever else we thought would sell Pay-Per-View’s or generate ratings. But, because we’re a real sports format, we don’t do that.
There’s nothing wrong with adapting and changing when it stays true to who you are and betters the company for fighters and fans. In that vein, we’re constantly moving forward and adapting to put on the best MMA events on earth. We started with 8-man tournaments. Then we added 4-man tournaments and our World Title rematch clause. Each new addition was created to maintain our true sports format while ensuring our Champions defend their belts as frequently as possible.
Now, we’re making another addition to deal with a “worst case scenario situation”. The highly unusual situation where injuries prevent a tournament champion from challenging for the world title and where there isn’t a 2nd tournament champion prepared to step in and take his shot at the title or a World Champion rematch fight isn’t in order. I don’t expect this situation to occur very often, but when it does….in those unexpected (“worst case scenario”) circumstances, we owe it to our Champions to have a fair format in place to ensure that our Champion doesn’t have to wait for his world title defense when that occurs.
So if lightning strikes, we’ve created an objective points system with a vote structure to solve the problem of who fights for the title when no opponent exists:
Step #1: Bellator will refer to the most recent completed tournament (in the instance of a 4-man tournament being the most recent tournament, we would expand this to be the most recent two tournaments), and tabulate tournament points based on the following criteria with fighters that are still under contract with Bellator:
- For every decision victory, fighter will record one (1) point
- For every KO/TKO/submission win in the third round, fighter will record two (2) points
- For every KO/TKO/submission win in the second round, fighter will record three (3) points
- For every KO/TKO/submission in the first round, fighter will record four (4) points
- From the above list, the top three (3) point earners in the applicable weight class in which a replacement title challenger must be determined will be chosen. Bellator MMA executives may also include a fourth (4th) fighter on the ballot as well. This list of four will comprise the list of available fighters for the title shot.
Once the list has been established, three (3) different groups, each holding 33% voting power, will vote on who rightfully deserves a shot at the Bellator World Title:
1) Current Bellator MMA World Champions (including the Champion in the division under consideration)
2) Current Bellator MMA Tournament winners
3) Bellator Executives including CEO Bjorn Rebney, President Tim Danaher & the top two executives on Bellator’s Talent Development Team including Sam Caplan and Zach Light.
After the voting results are in, a final challenger will be determined and revealed. The chosen fighter will replace the injured tournament winner and receive a world title shot.
By employing this new format adjustment to our existing tournament structure, Bellator will be able to determine new title challengers in the event of a catastrophic injury situation while still remaining true to its core belief that politics should not play a role in determining who fights for a world title. This formula will also allow Bellator to gain input from some of the most credible pundits around – the fighters themselves.