The start of 2013 means big things for Bellator, as the company gears up for their Spike TV debut on January 17. They've already announced a number of title fights, plus a few tournament match-ups, but their latest announcement is an interesting tweak to their existing tournament structure.
Starting with this season's Light Heavyweight tournament, Bellator is now introducing brackets to their tournament structure. Previously, quarterfinal winners would be paired up in semifinals depending on who had won and how the matches worked out, but now, there will be a set tournament bracket.
Along with this announcement came the complete Light Heavyweight tournament bracket; here it is:
Quarterfinal #1: Seth Petruzelli vs. Jacob Noe
Quarterfinal #2: Renato Sobral vs. Mikhail Zayats
Quarterfinal #3: King Mo Lawal vs. Przemyslaw Mysiala
Quarterfinal #4: Emanuel Newton vs. Atanas Djambazov
Winners of quarterfinals 1 and 2 will meet in the first semifinal; 3 and 4 in the second. Obviously, the ideal here is then for a Babalu vs. Mo final, and it looks likely that's what will happen.
The King Mo fight will take place on January 24, while the other three quarterfinals will be on the January 17 debut. Interestingly, the Babalu and Mo fights will be the only quarterfinals on the main card, as the other two will both be prelims on that stacked 17th show.
Overall, I am a fan of this move. Bellator's tournament structure has always been one of its unique selling points, and I'm happy to see it strengthened. When the move to Spike was announced, there was some concern that Spike would encourage Bellator to move away from the tournament, but this shows that the company is not only sticking with it, they are even more committed to the format. No word yet on the brackets for the season's other tournaments.
One final note - I would be remiss if I did not share with you Petruzelli's comments on his fight with Noe. They're... well, they're something. Enjoy.
"There is a burning rage inside me ready to explode up out of me, and all over my opponent," Petruzelli said. "Jacob will be covered in my rage. If you're sitting in the front row be careful, because no one is safe from my rage."
So Bloody Elbow fans in attendance in Irvine, watch out for that exploding rage.