We're one week away from the launch of Bellator season 8 and what the company hopes will be a big debut on Spike TV. Originally, one of the marquee fights on that debut was going to be the launch of the season's Welterweight tournament, with fans choosing who would square off between Ben Saunders, Douglas Lima, Paul Daley, and War Machine. However, legal troubles for Daley and injury for Machine (Mr. Machine? War?) forced them to delay the tournament launch.
Now, the Welterweight field is set. The tournament quarter-finals will take place January 24 on the second Spike show. Here's the line-up:
As with all their tournaments now, this is in a bracket format, so the winners of the top 2 fights will face off in semi-final #1, the bottom 2 in semi-final #2. The winner here gets a shot at the Bellator Welterweight champion, though he'll have to get in line behind season 7 winner Andrey Koreshkov.
Looking at the brackets, I think there's a good chance we're looking at a Lima vs. Saunders final in a rematch of the season 5 tournament. But if there's any man ready to spoil that, it's Lima's first round opponent Michail Tsarev, in what should be a very good fight. Personally, I would have liked to see them flip fights #1 and #3 simply because a potential Saunders vs. Zaromskis fight sounds like a good time. But still, there's great potential in this tournament.
Also on the January 24 card is Welterweight champion Ben Askren defending his title against Karl Amoussou, plus the King Mo debut. With those fights already scheduled, both Zaromskis vs. Weedman and Gomes vs. Amaya are off to the prelims.
Two other quick Bellator fight announcements:
- On February 28, Light Heavyweight champion Christian M'Pumbu will defend the belt against Attila Vegh. This will be M'Pumpu's first defense of the belt since winning it back in 2011, and in fact, the first Bellator LHW defense ever. Good move to get this fight scheduled so that the winner of this season's tournament can capitalize on that momentum and quickly move to a title shot.
- Finally, the company has set the prelim card for next week's Spike debut, and there are a lot of UFC veterans seeing action. Along with two of the Light Heavyweight tournament quarter-finals, the prelims also include Hector Ramirez vs. Jason Lambert, plus UFC veterans Mike Guymon and Jamie Yager among others. Check out that full card here.