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Bellator announces eight-man, $1 million Lightweight Grand Prix for 2023

Bellator MMA President, Scott Coker, has announced plans for the promotion to begin its next Grand Prix tournament, and it will take place in the stacked Lightweight division beginning in early 2023.

Coker stopped by The MMA Hour to drop the news, though he couldn’t commit to the eight participants who will take part in the tournament, which will not only give the winner a shot at the title, but a $1 million prize.

“The 155-pound tournament, we are going to get it on and it is going to be amazing,” Coker explained. “When I saw (Tofiq) Musayev fight in Japan in 2019, and he beat Patricky (Pitbull), so I said, ‘This kid is really good.’

“So, we had the opportunity to sign him and Usman [Nurmagomedov],” he continued. “Javier [Mendez] is telling me Usman is going to win the whole tournament, and Javier vary rarely steers me wrong, but I think these kids are going to have their hands full. I think it’s going to be an amazing tournament.”

Though not official yet, Coker did suggest a few names who could take part in the tournament.

“I think Brent Primus will be in the mix, though we haven't decided who the eight will be. If A.J. (McKee) likes fighting at 155 he will definitely get an invitation if he wants to step up. But, if he wants to go back down to 145, that’s fine. It’s going to be an amazing tournament next year.”

McKee will make his Lightweight debut this Saturday night (Oct. 1, 2022) when he takes on Spike Carlyle at Bellator 286 in Inglewood, Calif., after spending his entire career competing for the promotion’s Featherweight division.

As it stands, Patricky Pitbull is the current 155-pound champion and is currently set to defend his belt against undefeated (15-0) stalwart, Usman Nurmagomedov, at Bellator 288 on Nov. 12. Whoever the champion is once the tournament begins will put his belt on the line in every round until he loses it or makes it to the finale.

The top eight fighters currently in the weight class include Pitbull, Nurmagomedov, Musayev, Primus, Benson Henderson, Sydney Outlaw, Alexander Shabliy, Peter Queally and Islam Mamedov.


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