With the transition over to this space from BloodyElbow.com, I've been neglecting some of the less-than-premium but still relatively interesting news of the mixed martial arts world. Most notably, I've ignored news about the Bellator Fighting Championship. The number three or four North American organization (depending on where you rank Maximum Fighting Championships) is about to start their fourth season and their first run on MTV 2.
The first event kicks off on March 5th at 9pm ET from the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. There will be tournaments for light heavyweight, welterweight, lightweight and featherweight. Some of the notable fighters confirmed early on for this season include:
The first Bellator light heavyweight champion will be decided during Season 4 live on MTV2. The first fighter made official for the Bellator Season 4 light heavyweight tournament is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and member of the legendary Gracie family, Daniel Gracie.
Bellator's third welterweight tournament is one of the most talent-filled in mixed martial arts to date. Fighters confirmed for the upcoming 170-pound tournament include former Bellator welterweight world champion Lyman Good; MMA veteran Jay "The Thoroughbred" Hieron; Season 2 finalist Dan Hornbuckle; undefeated Judo Olympian Rick Hawn; fast rising Brent Weedman, undefeated knockout artist Chris Lozano; British standout "Judo" Jim Wallhead, and hard-hitting Iraq War veteran Steve Carl. The tournament winner will challenge Olympian and Bellator world champion Ben Askren for the welterweight world championship later this year.
The featherweight tournament includes Patricio Freire, Eric Larkin, Georgi Karakhanyan, Daniel Straus, Wilson Reis, Kenny Foster, and Zac George.
My early impressions are that Bellator has their work cut out for them. Non-UFC trends toward older audiences, making the MTV 2 platform large, but perhaps inappropriate. Not having high definition in many cable packages doesn't help sporting content in 2011. They also plan to run on Saturday nights this year, pitting them at least somewhat head-to-head with UFC and Strikeforce. Even if they hold events earlier in the day, their news is still going to get pushed down and out, figuratively and literally. I won't count them out, though. They've got some of the sport's top prospects, they're giving them noteworthy fights and the new platform creates some intriguing personalities.
Follow along as I update with this season's signings and news.