Daniel Gracie (left) | Peter Lockley/Sherdog.com
Bellator Fighting Championships announced its intent to hold a light heavyweight tournament in 2011.
Today, Sherdog confirmed the tournament's first participant: Daniel Gracie.
Speaking to sources close to the situation, Sherdog has learned that Gracie and the other seven tournament participants have been selected and signed. According to a press release, the winner of the tournament will receive $100,000.
“We've wanted to add a Light Heavyweight world championship tournament since Season 1, but [I] wanted to ensure that when we did it, we had a great group fighting for the title. Now, we do,” said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney in yesterday's press release. “One of the best parts of my job is handing over the Bellator world title belt to a new champion, and I’ll have the pleasure of doing it again this upcoming season.”
Gracie is coming off a victory at Israel FC "Genesis" in November over Martin Wojcik. The win came in the Brazilian's first fight in four years. Gracie made his pro debut at Pride 21 in 2002, going 3-1 in the Japanese organization before joining the International Fight League in 2006. The jiu-jitsu ace only fought twice for the defunct, team-based IFL, beating Wes Sims and falling to Allan Goes.
As a side note, Sherdog was also able to confirm that light heavyweight free agent and former UFC talent Keith Jardine will not be a part of the tournament.