The next three weekends will see Bellator close out their 7th season with Bellator 82, 83 and 84. The move for Season 8 to SPIKETV is highly anticipated, and Bellator has promised some announcement of changes, and more information on their 2013 Reality Series as well. Well this week, President Bjorn Rebney announced that title shot rematches would be granted without forcing the contender to go through the tournament format that Rebney claims is a Bellator signature. Bellator will close out their Heavyweight, Welterweight, Featherweight and Lightweight tournaments over these next three weeks, which leads to more activity for the titleholders, but the announced change does not go far enough in fixing what is broken at Bellator.
Let’s take the state of the Heavyweight division, where Bellator has done the poorest job. Bellator 84 will feature the tournament finals of Richard Hale taking on Alexander Volkov. This should set up a title shot against title holder Cole Konrad.
But Konrad, who is 9-0 and a skilled wrestler who is a relative novice at MMA, is retired. So the winner of Hale-Volkov doesn’t get a title shot? Must we wait for the Season 8 Heavyweight tournament to take place to set up a match for the vacant title? So your heavyweight winner from season 7 will sit out and wait for an opponent and not appear in a fight during the all important SPIKE opening season?
Or what about the tournament in the welterweight division that closes out at Bellator 82 this weekend with a fight between Lyman Good and Andrey Korkeshov? Good, a former champion, joined the tournament to get a rematch against titlist Ben Askren. Now you don’t need to win the tournament? What if Good loses to Korkeshov now?
And how does a remtach potential help Askren? Askren is another skilled wrestler who is crossing over to MMA. He has done well against solid competition and has a lot of potential. He is 10-0 and 28 years old, in his prime. Yet Askren has sat out 8 months while Bellator finishes their tournaments, and that is inexcusable for the development of a fighter.
Does this rematch clause mean that Bellator is actually going to make a play to sign Eddie Alvarez again? The Bellator 83 bout between Rad Martinez and Shahbulat Shamhalaev is supposed to determine the next opponent for champion Michael Chandler, but would a glossy rematch with Alvarez trump that match, or would Alvarez have to wait?
We are still waiting for Bellator to announce some changes that will mean growth for the company. What they have announced so far is much ado about nothing, and there doesn’t appear to be anything more than the stale Bellator air heading SPIKETV’s way. I hope I’m wrong.