Bjorn Rebney believes that Bellator’s new rule regarding tournaments is a positive. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Bellator MMA has once again altered the rules behind the “Toughest Tournament in Sports.”
The promotion issued a release on Thursday stating that any fighter who has previously won a Bellator tournament will maintain permanent eligibility to fight for a title without having to enter another bracket down the road.
“Just like we’ve done since day one, any fighter who wins ‘The Toughest Tournament in Sports’ will still be guaranteed a world title fight,” Rebney said in a release. “The addition I’m making here, that I’m really excited about, is if you’ve won a tournament, you’ll join an elite group of athletes who we can grant a world title fight to at any time.
“For example, if you win a tournament, fight for the world title and lose, you forever remain in that elite group of fighters who can be awarded another shot at the title,” he continued. “We will place some fighters back into tournaments, while others may lose a world title fight, win some non-tournament fights and be awarded another shot at the title. We won’t be implementing any hard and fast rule as to when a fighter will go back into a tournament and when he’ll fight non-tournament fights and potentially be granted another title shot.”
According to the release, a total of 34 fighters – current champions included – under Bellator contract are currently eligible to receive a title shot at any time. Some notable non-champions from that list include Michael Chandler, Quinton Jackson, Muhammed Lawal, Daniel Straus and Cheick Kongo, to name a few.
The new rule could potentially give the promotion more matchmaking freedom while also keeping the fighters on its roster active on a more consistent basis.
“What’s great about this addition is that it allows us to stay true to our core format, where title shots can only be earned through a tournament win, while also providing us tremendous flexibility to make the great fights fans want to see,” Rebney said. “And, we can do all this while keeping our fighters busy and battling in meaningful fights on a re-occurring basis. This is another step in our constant evolution and most importantly it’s a win for the fighters and the fans.”
This marks the second time that Bellator has tweaked its tournament format. At the beginning of 2013, Rebney announced that championship rematches would be allowed when necessary, a revision which ultimately paved the way for Michael Chandler-Eddie Alvarez II this past November.