The first bout to open the Grand Prix will take place on Saturday, September 29th, when Douglas Lima rematches Andrey Koreshkov for the second time. The two men first squared off back in 2015, when Koreshkov wrested the promotion’s 170 lb championship in what would have been Lima’s first title defense. Lima returned the favor a year later, defeating Koreshkov via KO in the 3rd round. Their ‘rubber match’ will take place on the main card of Bellator 206, under a middleweight title fight between Gagard Mousasi and tournament competitor Rory MacDonald.
If all goes to plan, MacDonald will return from his splash into the 185 lb division to face Jon Fitch for the opening round in the not too distant future. It’s an ambitious plan, to be sure, and brings up another fascinating twist to Bellator’s hopes for this multi-month competition.
Via press release, the Paramount Network promotion announced that all bouts in the tournament will be 5 rounds, whether or not they’re the main event of their particular card or not. It appears that this has been done, in part, to accommodate MacDonald’s current status as welterweight champion, as he’ll be putting his title on the line in each round of the tournament. Or, should he lose the belt, his opponent will treat their next round bout as a title defense. Eventually, the final winner will be both Grand Prix champion and holder of Bellator’s welterweight world title.
Beyond Daley vs. MVP, Lima vs. Koreshkov, and MacDonald vs. Fitch, the final tournament bracket will be occupied by a fight between Neiman Gracie and Ed Ruth. Lorenz Larkin and Yaroslav Amosov will serve as alternates should any of the competitors be unable to continue.
Bellator 206: Mousasi vs. MacDonald takes place in San Jose, CA and will be the promotion’s first event to appear on their new streaming partner, DAZN. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow as dates for the other tournament bouts have yet to be announced.