When Bellator debuted on Spike TV earlier this year, the number two mixed martial arts promotion was in a very good place, champion and title fight-wise. It had delayed several title fights to start the year off strong, which created a backlog of title challengers and has kept its champions busy.
Already this year, multiple title fights have had to be altered due to injuries to the challengers. Season seven featherweight tournament winner Shahbulat Shamulaev stepped up on short notice to vie for Pat Curran's title after Daniel Straus broke his hand, Season eight lightweight winner David Rickels filled in for the injured Dave Jansen.
But at the current rate Bellator is pushing its title fights, that backlog is going to be clearing up soon and you don't want your champions put on ice due to injured contenders.
Enter the "Tournament Champion Replacement Clause" which was announced yesterday (Aug. 12, 2013) on Bellator's website.
In the highly unusual situation where injuries prevent a tournament champion from challenging for the world title and where there isn't a second 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:
- 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.
- 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
Based on these conditions, someone like Mikhail Zayats would have been very valuable had the light heavyweight division lost Emanuel Newton as the top contender due to his pair of first round stoppages in the season eight tournament. Saad Awad would have been in the same boat after two first round knockouts in the lightweight tourney.
Once the list of potential contenders is tallied, three different groups with 33.33% equal voting power will weigh in to vote on a title challenger.
So who are in these groups?
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.
What do you make of this potential change to the way Bellator chooses title challengers in the scenario where none are available due to injury?