I have chosen four alternates that I believe are worthy to enter the star studded Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix taking place over the course of several BellatorMMA events. For the purposes of this fantasy piece I’ve acted as Bellator’s matchmaker.
With an 8-man tournament bracket full of Legends and former Champions, I must be thorough with my selections. Well, I’ve already selected them, and it took me two minutes. It’s not about the time expended, it’s about the knowing and what fits.
Main Tournament participants:
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Frank Mir
- Chael Sonnen
- Quinton Jackson
- Roy Nelson
- Matt Mitrione
- Ryan Bader
- King Mo
The alternate tournament bracket will consist of: two opening round fights (semi-final), and then the two victorious fighters competing against one another at the finale (final) to determine a Grand Prix Champion level worthy contender to step into the main tournament bracket if any of the main bracket fighters are injured in their semi-final bouts for that illustrious Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix belt!
If a pull-out or injury occurs before the opening bouts – I believe Bellator have to select the most decorated fighter, and a natural Heavyweight fighter. So in case of a pull-out occurring before the opening round, I would select my #1 alternate, and so on for any more opening pull-outs.
In case of a a pull-out between the opening round and the semi finals – I would select the fighter who had the more dominant victory in his alternate opening round bout. If there’s two pull-outs, then I have two fighters who have earned their spot!
In case of a pull-out between the semi-final and final, I would bring in the very deserving: Alternate Tournament Champion who would have been victorious earlier in the night out of the two victorious fighters from the opening round.
This structure covers all bases, and keeps the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament intense and prestigious.
So with the structure laid out – time for my selected alternate fighters [listed in ranking order].
- #1: Vitaly Minakov
- #2: Linton Vassell
- #3: Attilah Vegh
- #4: Emanuel Newton
Alternate Opening Round [Semi-Final]:
- Bout 1: #1 Vs. #3
- Bout 2: #2 Vs. #4
- Victor of bout #1/#3 Vs. Victor of Bout #2 Vs. #4
Linton Vassell vs. Emanuel Newton would be a trilogy that needs to be completed. Linton dominated on the ground for the most part of their first bout, but felt he gave up positions he felt he could have held longer, and took needless transitions and risks; allowing for a very sneaky Emanuel Newton to escape the clutches of ‘the Swarm’, and when the gas tank begins to empty – a scrambling Emanuel Newton is not what you want.
In the second bout, it was so tightly contested – that i believe that Linton pushing his butt against the cage as a scrambling Newton was aiming to attain back-control in the 3rd round won that fight!
Vitaly Minakov: A former Bellator Tournament Winner, and former Bellator Heavyweight Champion. The most highly decorated MMA Heavyweight free agent pro fighter currently in the market. A man I believe if entered into the main tournament bracket – will take home the Grand Prix title. A Judo Black belt, and multi time Sambo Champion and World Champion, there’s no denying this man’s resume as one of the best put forth out of these four fighters.
Attilah Vegh: A former Bellator LHW Champion. Not currently signed to Bellator. Was strangely released by Bellator in 2014 after having a record of 5-1 with them, and some victories over some very reputable names. Currently on a 2 fight win-streak outside of BellatorMMA.
Emanuel Newton: Already holding two victories over King Mo, who’s allocated in this Heavyweight main tournament bracket – that alone is just cause to enter Emanuel. Also a former Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion, he has the Bellator championship credentials that should be warranted for any tournament such as this. A little bit of a free spirit and going with the flow and the energy that is presented to him that day – you never know what your going to get from Emanuel. An exciting and unpredictable entry this would be. Bellator parted ways with Emanuel in 2016 – where he’s gone 1-3. Not on the best of current runs, but this tournament needs a ‘wild-card’, and Emanuel owns that title.
Linton Vassell: A man who really lives up to the moniker – ‘The Swarm’, Linton Vassell has dominated and dispatched various opponents Bellator have put across from him. Having fallen short in two title fights, and a close decision loss to King Mo, Linton has shown that he’s there with the best Bellator has to offer, maybe the Heavyweight Grand Prix might see the dark-horse finally come into the lime-light! Currently contracted to Bellator; 7-3 BellatorMMA record.
Maybe my selected fighters creates for more of a nostalgic list, but I think narrative and that history of three released fighters being former champions and coming back for a shot at the big prize. Also, Bellator has evolved a lot since then, and it would be interesting to witness how they would perform – given the change against such illustrious names. A lot of the alternates have faced each other, but time changes a lot in MMA – for good or bad. In terms of Linton, sometime fighters need that break, and I’d love for Linton to get that chance. Vitaly Minakov? I can’t resonate, and I find myself baffled as to why this man is not currently signed to either BellatorMMA or the UFC.
I know that there’s various free agent names floating around that can be included; that is what makes it all the more exciting. There was some I wanted to include, but with these four fighters – there’s a history and a narrative that makes it all the more interesting. And yes they all have the skills and the accolades to walk right into this alternate tournament.
If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following BellatorMMA events:
Bellator 192 at The Forum – Jan. 20, 2018: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)
Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena – Feb. 16, 2018: Matt Mitrione (12-5) vs. Roy Nelson (23-14)
Bellator at Allstate Arena – April, 2018: Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) vs. Frank Mir (18-11)
Bellator at SAP Center – May, 2018: Ryan Bader (24-5) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)