One half of the bracket will begin on September 29th when Andrey Koreshkov faces Douglas Lima at Bellator 206. The winner of that fight will go on to face the winner of the long-requested bout between Paul Daley and Michael “Venom” Page. The other side of the bracket features a pair of undefeated fighters in Neiman Gracie and Ed Ruth squaring off in the first round. The winner will face the winner of proven veteran Jon Fitch and the reigning champion Rory MacDonald. Currently, the Koreshkov/Lima bout is the only tournament matchup with an announced date.
The DAZN streaming service will launch September 10th, two weeks before the Koreshkov/Lima bout, and costs $9.99 per month for subscribers. There will also be a 30-day free trial for the service with no cancellation penalty.
This welterweight tournament is by no means watered down and will feature the best of the best in the promotion’s welterweight division. Andrey Koreshkov is a former weltwerweight champion who is currently on a two-fight winning streak and has won eight of his last nine fights. Koreshkov brings a stellar record with him into the tournament of 21-2 and will be looking to become a two-time champion at the close of this tournament.
Koreshkov’s opponent, Douglas Lima, is quite familiar with his adversary September 29th, as both fighters hold a victory over the other leading into their trilogy bout. Prior to losing the welterweight championship to Rory MacDonald, Lima had just defeated three names connected to this tournament: Koreshkov, Paul Daley, and tournament alternate Lorenz Larkin. Bellator will also look to become a two-time champion by winning this all-star tournament.
Michael Page is one of the most talked about fighters in the promotion, and this tournament will reveal the true value of the man who claims to be the face of Bellator MMA. Page’s flashy style has made him the leading star in many a highlight reel and has helped him bring an undefeated 13-0 record into the tournament. Remarkably, 11 of Page’s 13 wins have come via stoppage, and he has only been outside of the first round four times. This streak and Page’s talent will be put to the ultimate test during this welterweight tournament.
Page has been in an ongoing war of words with his opponent, Paul Daley, who will bring more fight experience with him than anyone else in the tournament with a total of 58 fights to his name. Aside from alternate Lorenz Larkin, Daley has lost to every participant in this tournament he has faced: Douglas Lima (unanimous decision, Bellator 158) Rory MacDonald (rear naked choke, Bellator 179), and in his most recent fight, to Jon Fitch at Bellator 199 via unanimous decision. He will look to find redemption for these losses, beginning with vanquishing his nemesis Michael Page at a date and place to be determined.
Neiman Gracie is an undefeated jiu-jitsu master holding a second degree black belt with all but one of his eight victories coming by way of submission, most recently at Bellator 198 when he submitted Javier Torres with an arm-triangle choke. Gracie will put his submission abilities to the test against three-time national wrestling champion Ed Ruth, who will also bring an undefeated record with him into their contest of 6-0. Although Ruth is a national wrestling champion, he is not known for “lay and pray,” but on the contrary, is known for earning knockout victories, with five of his six wins coming by way of KO/TKO.
Jon Fitch has competed around the world. He found success in the UFC, where he challenged for the welterweight title; in the World Series of Fighting, where he won the welterweight title; and will now look to claim the Bellator welterweight championship, a journey that begins by facing off against current champion Rory MacDonald in the first round. Fitch brings nearly 40 fights of experience with him and a 31-7-1 record. Fitch made his Bellator debut in May, where he submitted fellow tournament participant Paul Daley.
And the final participant in the tournament needs no introduction. The current champion, Rory MacDonald is coming off of back-to-back wins since debuting in Bellator, with wins over tournament participants Paul Daley and Douglas Lima. The victory over Lima earned MacDonald the right to call himself the reigning welterweight champion, a right he will fight to defend in what will arguably be the biggest challenge in his accomplished career.
In an alternate bout, 20-0 Yaroslav Amasov will take on Lorenz Larkin, also at a date and event to be determined. The winner of this bout will be able to fill in as a replacement for a tournament participant if needed.
Each bout in the tournament will be five rounds, and the winner will be the undisputed Bellator welterweight champion. You can check out the grand reveal video of the bracket here:
Which first-round fight are you looking forward to the most?