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Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix - FINAL

Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix - FINAL

On January 26th, at The Forum in Inglewood, California, MMA stars Fedor Emelianenko (38-5) and Ryan Bader (26-5) will conclude Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix, and fight each other in the finals for the vacant Bellator Heavyweight championship.  Bellator has not had a heavyweight champion since Russian fighter Vitaly Minakov defeated Alexander Volkov at Bellator 108 on November 15, 2013 to win the title. Several months later, he defended his title by defeated Cheick Kongo at Bellator 115 on April 4, 2014.  However, after his title defense, he left Bellator to continue his mixed martial arts career in Russia (he has since fought 7 times in the Russian MMA promotion Fight Nights Global). Although he was still under contract, because he had no intentions on fighting for Bellator, Bellator’s president Scott Coker stripped Minakov of his belt on May 2016.

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In November 2017, Scott Coker announced that Bellator would hold a Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament where the winner would be crowned the heavyweight champion of the organization.   There would be 8 participants, and the winner would be decided over seven Bellator events. The participants were: Quinton Jackson, Chael Sonnen , Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir, Matt Mitrione, Roy Nelson, Ryan Bader, and King Mo Lawal.  

In Round One of the tournament:

  • Chael Sonnon defeated Quinton Jackson by Unanimous Decision at Bellator 192 on January 20, 2018
  • Fedor Emelianenko defeated Frank Mir by TKO at Bellator 198 on April 28, 2018
  • Matt Mitrione defeated Roy Nelson by Majority Decision at Bellator 194 on February 16, 2018
  • Ryan Bader defeated King Mo Lawal by TKO (Punches) at Bellator 199 on May 12, 2018

Semifinals Number One: Ryan Bader versus Matt Mitrione

The first semifinal match of the heavyweight grand prix took place at Bellator 207 on October 12, 2018 at Uncasville, Connecticut with a fight pitting Bellator's light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader versus former UFC and NFL fighter Matt Mitrione.  

In the fight, Ryan Bader was able to take Matt Mitrione down at will, utilizing his 2 time All American Division One wrestling skills,  and was able to provide a stready barrage of ground and pound from the beginning of the match until the end. Additionally, in the second round of the fight, Bader almost submitted Matt with a kimura shoulder lock, were Mitrione shrieked but did not tap out.  In the end, the judges scored the fight 30-24, 30-25, 30-25 for a unanimous decision win for Ryan.

Semifinals Number One:  Fedor Emelianenko versus Chael Sonnon

The second fight took place at Bellator 208 on October 13, 2018 in Uniondale, New York.  The fight started with Chael aggressively coming forward to meet Fedor. However, Fedor was able to drop him with his first punch of the fight.  Chael was able to survive and get up and attempt a takedown attempt. But, Fedor was able to block the takedown and throw Chael instead, landing on top.  After another exciting exchange, where Fedor hip tossed Chael, both fighters are back on their feet again and Sonnon is able to get Fedor's back on a scramble.  However, he slips off and the fight eventually ends with Fedor Emelianenko defeating Chael Sonnen via TKO (strikes) at 4:46 of round one.

Odds for Finals Winner

While Fedor looked impressive in his last two bouts leading up to the finals of the Heavyweight Grand Prix, oddsmaker still favor current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader as the favorite coming into this fight.  When the finals were first annouced, numerous betting sites started with having Ryan Bader as a -450 favorite, giving him an approximate 82 percent chance of winning the bout, while having Fedor as a +325 underdog. In layman's terms, this basically means a winning bet of $100 on Ryan Bader would win you $122.20, and a winning bet of $100 on Fedor Emelianenko would win you $425.


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Full Bellator 214 line up:

In addition to the exciting finale of the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, there are numerous exciting fights on the Bellator 214 card.  

Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) vs. Ryan Bader (26-5)

Aaron Pico (4-1) vs. Henry Corrales (16-3)

Jake Hager (0-0) vs. J.W. Kiser (1-1)

Juan Archuleta (21-1) vs. Ricky Bandejas (11-1)

Brandon McMahan (5-6) vs. Adel Altamimi (7-5)

A.J. Agazarm (0-0) vs. Jesse Roberts (0-0)

Chris Gonzalez (1-0) vs. Henry Mendez (0-1)

Weber Almeida (1-0) vs. Odan Chinchilla (1-0)

Jay-Jay Wilson (1-0) vs. Tyler Beneke (0-0)

Sean Johnson (3-1) vs. Arturo Rivas (5-2)

Jorge Juarez (3-0) vs. David Pacheco (0-0)

Jesse Merritt (5-4) vs. Thor Skancke (10-8-1)

Osman Diaz (2-1) vs. Christopher Reyes (0-0)

James Barnes (11-3) vs. Ryan Lilley (9-4)

Ian Butler (4-5, 1 NC) vs. Craig Plaskett (3-3)

Steve Ramirez (6-3) vs. Desmond Torres (5-1)


Bellator History

Bellator was founded in 2008 by Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney.  Bjorn attended Ohio University for college on a football scholarship.  Upon graduation, he attended law school and eventually worked at the sports-law firm of Steinberg Moorad & Dunn in Newport Beach, California.  However, his passion was for Mixed Martial Arts, and he decided to start a MMA promotion. In doing so, he met up with sixty-one investors over a 16 month period, trying to secure funds for this new promotion.  Eventually, on his 62nd meeting with investors, he met with executives at Plainfield Asset Management, who agreed to provide capital and Bellator Fighting Championships was created in 2008.


Bellator's First Event

The word Bellator means "warrior" in Latin, and the first event was held on April 3, 2009 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida.  The event was broadcast nationally the following night through an exclusive television agreement with ESPN Deportes. The event featured quarter-final tournament bout at Featherweight (145 pounds) featuring Yahir Reyes, Nick Gonzalez, Estevan Payan, Luis Palomino, Joe Soto, and Ben Greer.  Additionally, the quater-finals of the Lightweight (155 pounds) tounament took place as well, featuring Jorge Masvidal, Nick Agallar, Eddie Alvarez, Greg Loughran, Toby Imada, and Alonzo Martinez. During this event, Toby Imada was able to pull off an incredible inverted triangle submission choke over Jorge Masvidal at 3:22 of the third round, winning the 2009 submission of the year award.  By July 2009, Sports Illustrated had proclaimed Bellator as the "MMA success story of the year".

Since the first event, there have been 213 "numbered" events held.   In December 2011, American muti-national mass media conglomerate, Viacom, acquired a majority stake of Bellator.  Additionally, in January 2013, all Bellator events began airing on Spike. Furthermore on May 2014, Bellator hosted the company's first pay per view event which featured the Bellator Light Heavyweight Tournament Final between Rampage Jackson and King Mo, Michael Chandler versus Will Brooks for the Lightweight Interim World Title, Alexander Schlemenko versus Tito Ortiz, and the Bellator Season 10 Heavyweight Tournament Final betwen Alexander Volkov and Blagoi Ivanov.  


On June 18, 2014 Scott Coker, the founder of Strikeforce MMA promotion (which was purchased by Zuffa, LLC in Match 2011), was announced as the new president of Bellator MMA, replacing found and CEO Bjorn Rebney.  

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