With the increasing prevalence of fighters withdrawing from events
due to injury, often on short notice, Bellator MMA has a backup plan to ensure its
heavyweight Grand Prix goes as smoothly as possible.
Bellator President Scott Coker revealed that plan during Thursday’s
press conference for Bellator 208, which takes place Saturday.
Sonnen and Fedor
Emelianenko will battle it out in the tournament’s semifinals,
while longtime Bellator and former UFC heavyweight Cheick Kongo
(28-10 2) will fight Timothy
Johnson in a main card feature bout.
“[If] Cheick wins, and if there’s a hiccup (in the tournament), we
should probably have those two alternates fight, and then the
winner can fight in the finals,” said Coker.
By “those two alternates,” Coker referred to Kongo and Roy Nelson,
who fights Sergei
Kharitonov on Friday night. Nelson was eliminated from the
Grand Prix by Matt
Mitrione earlier this year. Nelson and Kongo have met before,
at UFC 156 in 2013, with Kongo losing via first-round knockout. At
the press conference, the Frenchman was enthusiastic about the idea
of a rematch under the Bellator banner, with the added stakes of an
alternate berth in the tournament.
“It’s always good to meet an old mate and get some revenge,
especially when you were not on top of your shape during your
fight,” he said. “I’m not happy with the situation to (get in) the
line again to get the opportunity to fight, but it is what it
Bellator 207 will take place Friday Oct. 12, and Bellator 208 on
Saturday Oct. 13.