Bellator MMA changes championship format with addition of new tournament contender pool

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

All past and present Bellator tournament winners are now in world title shot pool.

Newport Beach, Calif. (June 12, 2014) - With Bellator's 2014 Summer Series having just begun last Friday, Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney announced today that the promotion has made an addition to its real sport, tournament based format that allows former Bellator Tournament winners the potential to be granted a World Title fight without going back into The Toughest Tournament in Sports.

"Just like we've done since day one, any fighter who wins The Toughest Tournament in Sports will still be guaranteed a World Title fight," Rebney said. "The addition I'm making here, that I'm really excited about, is if you've won a tournament, you'll join an elite group of athletes who we can grant a world title fight to at any time."

"For example, if you win a tournament, fight for the World Title and lose, you forever remain in that elite group of fighters who can be awarded another shot at the title. We will place some fighters back into tournaments, while others may lose a world title fight, win some non-tournament fights and be awarded another shot at the title. We won't be implementing any hard and fast rule as to when a fighter will go back into a tournament and when he'll fight non-tournament fights and potentially be granted another title shot. What's great about this addition is that it allows us to stay true to our core format, where title shots can only be earned through a tournament win, while also providing us tremendous flexibility to make the great fights fans want to see. And, we can do all this while keeping our fighters busy and battling in meaningful fights on a re-occurring basis. This is another step in our constant evolution and most importantly it's a win for the fighters and the fans."

"When I heard about this change, I instantly fell in love with it," Bellator Interim Lightweight Champion Will Brooks said. "This is a way to keep guys active after they have proven themselves in a tournament. You always want to stay in the mix as a fighter, and it's really exciting to me that Bellator is taking the fighters and fans opinions to heart and making decisions to put on the best fights possible. It's refreshing to see and be a part of, and I can't wait to see what the future holds."

"At the end of the day, everyone wants to see guys they know stay busy and active," Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima said. "As fighters we want to stay busy and keep fighting, and this new change helps keep the talent pool fresh and creates new challengers for us. I know the tournament isn't going anywhere, it's how we all came up and got our titles, but now we have a chance to keep staying busy and keep defending our titles."

The current pool of fighters eligible to be chosen to fight for the world title includes:

Bantamweight: Eduardo Dantas*, Joe Warren*, Marcos Galvao, Rafael Silva

Featherweight: Pat Curran*, Patricio Pitbull, Daniel Straus, Shahbulat Shamhalaev, "Frodo" Khasbulaev, Daniel Weichel, Joe Warren.

Lightweight: Eddie Alvarez*, Will Brooks*, Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Rick Hawn, Dave Jansen, David Rickels

Welterweight: Douglas Lima*, Karl Amoussou, Andrey Koreshkov, Rick Hawn

Middleweight: Alexander Shlemenko*, Brennan Ward, Doug Marshall

Light Heavyweight: Emanuel Newton*, Rampage Jackson, King Mo, Christian M'Pumbu, Atilla Vegh,

Heavyweight: Vitaly Minakov*, Alexander Volkov, Cheick Kongo

* Denotes Current Bellator Champion or Interim Champion

For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BellatorMMA.

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