While Bellator makes its 2023 debut on February 4, care of a card headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Ryan Bader 2, its lightweight grand prix will kick off the following month.
On a Wednesday appearance on The MMA Hour, Bellator CEO Scott Coker announced the participants for that grand prix, which will consist of eight fighters and kick off March 10, 2023 in San Jose, California.
The eight fighters taking part in the tournament are:
As with previous Bellator MMA grand prix tournaments, a million dollar bonus will be on the line for the winner. “There’s a lot riding on the line, I know these guys are going to fight their hearts out. Everybody has something to prove,” Coker said during Wednesday’s appearance.
Brackets/match-ups for the tournament have not yet been set. But several key names, including 155lb champion Usman Nurmagomedov, and Patricky Pitbull, whom he defeated to claim the lightweight title last year, are in the mix. So too are A.J. McKee, winner of Bellator’s featherweight grand prix, and Mansour Barnaoui, who was victorious in the ROAD FC lightweight tournament several years ago.
McKee, who moved up to lightweight last year, fought just last month in Japan as part of the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN cross-promotion, defeating RIZIN lightweight champ Roberto de Souza.