Bellator Releases Lightweight Champ Will Brooks, Strips Heavyweight King Vitaly Minakov

By Tristen Critchfield May 14, 2016


Championships will be up for grabs in Bellator MMA’s lightweight and light heavyweight divisions after the California-based promotion’s latest moves.

Will Brooks, the 155-pound titlist, has been released and is free to field offers in free agency, while heavyweight champion Vitalov Minakov has been stripped of his belt. Sherdog.com confirmed the news with a promotion official on Saturday following an initial report from MMAJunkie.com.

Brooks captured the interim crown with a split verdict over Michael Chandler at Bellator 120 and the vacant title with a fourth-round stoppage of Chandler at Bellator 131. He last appeared at Bellator 145 this past November, when he defended the belt with a five-round decision over Marcin Held. The American Top Team product has won eight straight fights in Bellator and is 17-1 in his professional career overall.

Bellator President Scott Coker told MMAjunkie.com that Brooks’ contract expired and the promotion elected not to renew his deal. Additionally, Bellator has waived all negotiating rights with “Ill Will.”

Meanwhile, Minakov will remain under Bellator contract but is being stripped of his title due to inactivity. The 31-year-old Russian has not defended the belt since defeating Cheick Kongo at Bellator 115 in April 2014. In the meantime, he fought three times in 2015 for the Russian-based Eurasia Fight Nights organization. Minakov is unbeaten in 17 professional bouts, including five under the Bellator banner.

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