Bellator announces move to Showtime and Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

Bellator MMA has been relatively quiet since the calendar moved over to 2021. However, they’ve been making big moves behind the scenes that would further the promotion’s vision in 2021.

Today, Bellator announced that they have agreed to a deal with Showtime and Showtime will now become the exclusive home for their events. Just last year, Bellator announced they had a deal with CBS Sports Network, but the Viacom promotion is shifting gears.

Showtime decided to get involved and both sides agreed that it would be best to move the promotion to Showtime. Bellator will also be moving their events back to Friday nights after a brief stint on Thursdays.

In addition to announcing the new deal with Showtime, Scott Coker announced some exciting news in terms of the light heavyweight division. By far, the light heavyweight division is the best that Bellator has to offer.

They made some huge signings in the last year and they are ready to capitalize. Coker announced today that Bellator would be starting a Light Heavyweight Grand Prix that will start on April 9th.

Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix

The Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix will kick off on April 9th. In the first quarter final matchup, Corey Anderson (14-5) will be taking on Bellator newcomer, Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (18-5-1).

Also on April 9th in the main event of the evening, Ryan Bader (27-6) will be taking on Lyoto Machida (26-10). Bader is the Bellator heavyweight champion and just lost his light heavyweight title last year to Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Of course, the matchup everyone wanted to see takes place on April 16th. Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will battle it out. However, despite the hype behind this matchup, it will not serve as the main event on April 16th.

Instead, that honor will belong to the Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov. Nemkov will be competing in the tournament and defending his title against Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). An absolutely stacked field and fight fans should be very excited about this Grand Prix.

Corey Anderson says Bellator is better than the UFC at light heavyweight

Corey Anderson

2020 turned out to be an eventful year for Bellator‘s Corey Anderson (14-5). When the year started, Anderson was one of the top contenders in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. He appeared to be one win away from a title shot.

However, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) starched Anderson in February to claim that top contender status. After Anderson was knocked out, he had a series of health concerns that kept him from competing. These health scares also had him reevaluate his career.

Anderson decided to go to the UFC and ask for more money. When the promotion wasn’t willing to, he asked for a release to be able to look around in the market. The UFC released Anderson and Bellator signed him almost immediately.

It turned out to be the first of several moves like this for Bellator. After signing Anderson, Bellator would go on to sign Yoel Romero (13-5) and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) after they were released from the UFC.

Those top three contenders join the likes of Vadim Nemkov (12-2), Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC), and Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC). It’s safe to say that Bellator’s light heavyweight division has never been better.

In fact, it’s so good that Anderson believes it’s the best on the planet. Anderson told MMA Fighting, “I just feel right now Bellator has the upper hand. Jones has left. They’ve got these hype trains. These young guys UFC has coming in they’re trying to hype up but I feel like their legitimacy aren’t like the vets that were there that are in Bellator now.”

Bellator or the UFC?

If we are going to go on pure name recognition, it’s hard to argue Corey Anderson’s point. Bellator has some serious name power in their light heavyweight division. However, it is the best in the sport?

In all honesty, if you’re looking at the totality of their top five, it might be. The UFC’s top contender is Glover Teixeira (32-7) who was knocked out in 14 seconds by Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

Then again, there’s also Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) in the UFC’s top five. Prochazka stopped Bellator’s champion, Vadim Nemkov, when the two of them faced off a few years ago.

Another interesting wrinkle to throw into things is the light heavyweight debut of Israel Adesanya (20-0). Stylebender is fighting Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title in March.

Anderson definitely has an argument that Bellator is just as good if not better at 205 than the UFC. However, I believe the best light heavyweight in the world right now is Jan Blachowicz with Jon Jones moving up.

Overall, the UFC has a deeper division due to the amount of fighters on the roster and they have younger contenders. While Bellator is right there, I would still give the advantage to the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, the UFC.

Fights Bellator needs to make in 2021

2021 is officially here and it’s expected to be a big year for Bellator MMA. Despite having a lengthy shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the promotion had some really high points in 2020.

Not only did Bellator put on some tremendous fights, but they made some big signings. With a string of signings in the second half of the year, Bellator has a light heavyweight division that can compete with anyone’s.

We just entered 2021, but it’s looking good for Bellator. They have a lot of talent on the roster and they can be taken more seriously now. Gone are the days where Bellator cards are being headlined by the likes of Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000.

In 2021, there are a couple of fights that stick out as “Must-Makes” for Bellator. One of those fights comes from their most stacked division and the other comes from the division that holds the greatest fighter in the promotions history.

Bellator matchups that need to happen in 2021

Yoel Romero – Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

The first matchup that Bellator needs to make is Yoel Romero (13-5) against Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Both of these men were signed by Bellator in the last couple of months of 2020.

The two former UFC title challengers are two of the more terrifying fighters in the sport. Romero just fought for the UFC middleweight title back in February of 2020 before being released at the end of the year.

Rumble has been out since 2017, however, outside of Daniel Cormier, nobody has been able to stop him since 2012. Both of these men are terrifying and extremely talented. Neither are likely to get a Bellator title shot right away considering the title picture.

With that in mind, Bellator needs to book the two men against each other. A matchup between Rumble and Romero is bigger than the light heavyweight title. It’s a massive fight that would draw in a ton of fans. I fully expect Bellator to book this fight early in 2021.

Patricio Pitbull – AJ McKee

This potential Bellator matchup is one that will likely be booked by default. The potential featherweight matchup between Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4) and AJ McKee (17-0) is one that Bellator absolutely needs in 2021.

Both men are currently in the featherweight Grand Prix. McKee has already punched his ticket to the finals while Pitbull still has to defeat Emmanuel Sanchez. Pitbull has already defeated Sanchez once before.

You can imagine that the promotion is praying that Pitbull makes it through that fight victorious. No disrespect to Sanchez, but the fight that everyone wants to see is Pitbull against AJ McKee.

McKee has fought all 17 of his pro fights with Bellator. He looks like he can become the homegrown superstar that Bellator needs. He definitely has mainstream appeal and he’s only 25 years old.

Pitbull is arguably the greatest fighter Bellator has ever had. He continues to get better and better and he’s currently a two-division world champion. The fight between these two could be massive.

The best thing for Bellator in 2021 is for McKee to get his shot against Pitbull and win. AJ McKee has what it takes to become a superstar in MMA. If he can come in and win the title from someone like Pitbull in 2021, look out.

Bold 2021 predictions for Bellator MMA

Patricio Pitbull Freire

2021 is already promising to be a massive year for Bellator MMA. The promotion made some major progress in 2020 despite having to shut down for a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bellator put on some tremendous fights in 2020. However, it was their string of signings in the second half of the year that had the MMA world buzzing. Bellator really stacked their light heavyweight division.

Bellator added Yoel Romero (13-5), Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6), and Corey Anderson (14-5) to their light heavyweight division. All of the former top UFC contenders parted ways with the UFC this year.

As soon as they hit the open market, Bellator scooped them up. In doing so, the promotion has put together a light heavyweight division that is certainly capable of competing with the UFC’s light heavyweight division.

There are so many things to watch for with Bellator in 2021. I wanted to do some bold predictions for the promotion for what will happen in 2021. If these predictions come true, there are going to be some shocked MMA fans.

2021 Bellator Bold Predictions

Patricio Pitbull leaves 2021 without a title

For my first bold prediction I’m looking at Bellator’s two-division champion, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (31-4). Pitbull is widely considered to be the best fighter that Bellator has on the roster. He’s arguably the best fighter in the promotion’s history.

He currently is the Bellator lightweight and featherweight champion. However, there has been whispers of him vacating the lightweight championship. Pitbull became the lightweight champion when he defeated Michael Chandler (21-5) in 2019.

However, Pitbull is small for the weight class. He mainly moved up to lightweight to challenge Chandler to avenge his brother’s (Patricky Pitbull) knockout loss to Chandler. He has yet to defend the lightweight championship.

I’m going to say that Patricio Pitbull vacates the Bellator lightweight championship to focus on featherweight. However, I think that this is going to be the year that Pitbull is dethroned at featherweight.

The most exciting prospect in Bellator is AJ McKee (17-0). The Mercenary has fought all seventeen of his professional fights under the Bellator banner. They’ve brought him along the right way and he’s on the verge of superstardom.

McKee has already earned a spot in the finals of Bellator’s featherweight Grand Prix. The other spot will go to the winner of the fight between Patricio Pitbull and Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4).

I believe that Pitbull is going to defeat Sanchez when they fight setting up a fight between him and McKee. I’m going to say that McKee not only wins the Bellator featherweight title, but finishes Patricio Pitbull. With that, cementing himself as the superstar that Bellator needs.

Vadim Nemkov remains the light heavyweight champion

As mentioned above, the Bellator light heavyweight division is completely stacked at the moment. All of those signings are incredibly exciting and I didn’t even mention the promotion’s light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

Nemkov knocked out Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) to capture the Bellator light heavyweight championship back in August. Nobody has been able to stop Nemkov since he made his debut with the promotion in 2017.

With the additions made to the light heavyweight division, many are saying Nemkov will not leave 2021 as the champion. However, my bold prediction is that the belt stays with the Russian as we enter 2022.

As things currently stand, there are three front runners to face Nemkov whenever he defends his title. Those contenders being Corey Anderson, Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC), and a rematch with Bader.

Something tells me that Nemkov is just going to fight twice in 2021 with both of his fights coming from that group of three. Nemkov has already defeated Davis and Bader on his way to the title.

Corey Anderson is definitely a tough challenge, however, I think Nemkov can beat him. While everyone will want to see Anthony Johnson or Yoel Romero challenge for the Bellator title next year, I’m not convinced it happens.

Something tells me that Nemkov is going to have a rematch with Ryan Bader next. Scott Coker said that they are looking into this. I believe that Nemkov will beat Bader again to retain the Bellator title.

Perhaps on the same card, I believe we will see a matchup between Davis and Anderson as a title eliminator. I also see Nemkov defeating the winner of that fight. So my prediction is when all is said and done, Vadim Nemkov is still the light heavyweight champion after 2021.

State of the Bellator light heavyweight division entering 2021

Bellator MMA had a very big year in 2020. Despite having to shutdown for a few months due to the pandemic, they accomplished some great things. From the first major MMA event in France to transitioning to CBS Sports Network. 

It’s been a very good year for Bellator. However, despite those accomplishments, it’s the additions that Bellator has made in 2020 that really stand out to me. Specifically the additions to the light heavyweight division.

The UFC parted ways with three top level fighters in 2020. Those fighters being Corey Anderson (14-5), Yoel Romero (13-5), and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6). Bellator pounced on those three immediately and scooped them up.

Anderson asked for his release earlier this year after he felt he wasn’t getting paid enough. Once released, Bellator signed him to a deal where he was making more. Yoel Romero was recently cut from the UFC. However, he fought for the middleweight title in his last fight.

Once on the market, Bellator signed him for the light heavyweight division. Rumble Johnson’s UFC return was much anticipated, but the two sides decided it would be best to part ways. Once on the market, Bellator signed Rumble as well.

Bellator’s Light Heavyweight Division in 2021

When the year started, Ryan Bader (27-6, 1 NC) held both the Bellator light heavyweight and heavyweight titles. However, he hadn’t defended his light heavyweight title since 2017. That changed at Bellator 244 when he fought Vadim Nemkov (12-2).

While there was a lot of hype surrounding Nemkov, many believed it would be another win for Bader. However, Nemkov proved the doubters wrong by stopping Bader in the second round. Nemkov is now the light heavyweight king and he’s 5-0 in Bellator.

The next title defense isn’t clear for Nemkov. There’s talk of a potential rematch with Bader, but there is also talk of him facing either Phil Davis (22-5, 1 NC) or Corey Anderson. Davis is riding a three-fight winning streak and just defeated Lyoto Machida (26-10) in September.

Anderson made his Bellator debut in November when he smashed Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 251. In my opinion, Bader should fight at heavyweight next and let Nemkov take on either Anderson or Davis.

The fight everyone wants to see is the potential matchup between Romero and Rumble. In all honesty, it’s bigger than the champion Nemkov facing off against any of those top contenders I mentioned.

Rumble – Romero is one of the biggest matchups Bellator could make in 2021. There have been whispers of a potential Grand Prix, but nothing is official. What we do know is that the light heavyweight division is stacked. Nemkov is going to have his hands full this upcoming year.

Bellator’s Yoel Romero says there’s a 90% chance he fights Rumble Johnson in debut

Bellator has been making some waves with their recent signings in the light heavyweight division. Earlier this year, the promotion signed top UFC light heavyweight Corey Anderson to bolster their light heavyweight division.

Anderson was ranked fourth in the UFC prior to the Bellator signing. Then, out of no where, Bellator signed Anthony “Rumble” Johnson after he mutually parted ways with the UFC. This week, the promotion made another huge signing.

The UFC is cutting down their roster by the end of the year. One of the fighters who was let go is Yoel Romero. Romero’s release came as a surprise considering he just fought for the title back in February in his last fight.

However, the UFC decided it was time to move on from Romero. After initially not seeming interested, Bellator pounced on the opportunity to sign Yoel Romero. They finalized the deal this week and he will be fighting in the light heavyweight division.

Romero appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show to talk about his move to Bellator. He talked about his first fight saying, “There’s a huge possibility, 90% chance that (Anthony “Rumble” Johnson) will be the first one.”

Bellator’s huge light heavyweight matchup

This is the biggest matchup Bellator can make with their new signings. Romero and Rumble are two of the most feared fighters in the world. Both are freaks of nature with incredible power in their hands.

Romero won a silver medal in the Olympics for wrestling, however, it’s his power and athleticism that has made him a star. Rumble Johnson is known for separating people from their senses. Just ask Glover Teixeira who didn’t last 14 seconds with Rumble.

Bellator has some serious momentum in their light heavyweight division at the moment. While their last three signings were all fighters who were released by the UFC, they are massive additions to their roster.

I’m not saying it is, but you can definitely make the argument that Bellator‘s light heavyweight division could compete with the UFC’s. It’s been a long time since anyone said they could compete with the UFC in any division.

BREAKING: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson signs with Bellator

Anthony Rumble Johnson

In a shocking turn of events this morning, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) is heading to Bellator. ESPN’s Ariel Helwani broke the news this morning saying that Johnson had parted ways with the UFC and signed with Bellator.

This is very similar to what happened with Corey Anderson when he signed with Bellator. The top UFC light heavyweight out of no where was released and signed a deal with Bellator within hours of the release.

Just this week, we posted an article about Rumble’s return to the UFC. He has been training extremely hard in his quest to try to become a champion. Anthony Johnson hasn’t fought since 2017 when he lost to Daniel Cormier.

Over the weekend, the UFC announced that they would be making a number of roster cuts before the end of the year. Rumble was going to be a fighter that was going to make a decent amount of money. One has to wonder if that played a part in all of this.

Rumble in Bellator

Per Helwani, the plan is for Rumble to fight at light heavyweight and make his debut for Bellator in the first few months of 2021. With the addition of Rumble Johnson, Bellator’s light heavyweight division just got even better.

Scott Coker’s claims to have the best light heavyweight division just doubled down with the signing of Rumble Johnson. He’s a major signing for Bellator and could easily become the light heavyweight champion.

There are so many good matchups for Johnson. He could always have a rematch with Phil Davis, fight Corey Anderson, and there’s the champion, Vadim Nemkov. I fully expect Bellator to put Johnson in the title picture very quickly.

I’m very curious to see who the promotion pairs him with first. Either way, we know that Rumble’s UFC days are over and his Bellator career will start very soon.

Anthony Johnson on his UFC return: “I’m trying to bury everybody”

Anthony Rumble Johnson

One of the most terrifying knockout artist in the history of the UFC is getting ready for his return. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (22-6) will be returning to action in 2021 after retiring back in 2017.

Back at UFC 210, Rumble was submitted for the second time by Daniel Cormier. Cormier turned away Rumble in his only two attempts to capture the UFC light heavyweight championship. After the second fight, Rumble announced his retirement. 

He stated in his post-fight interview that he wanted to focus on other things. However, it seems that Rumble has caught that fighting passion again. He’s not playing with this comeback that was announced a few months ago.

Johnson entered the USADA testing pool and should be eligible to fight in March. He made it no secret that he’s planning on taking down whatever’s in his way at 205. In an interview he posted on his Instagram page, Rumble made no secrets about his plan.

When asked about who he’s targeting in the UFC, Johnson replied, “Everybody. I’m not going to call out just one person. I’m trying to buy everybody.” Terrifying words from the knockout artist.

Rumble’s UFC return

We are getting closer and closer to Rumble Johnson making his return to the UFC. He’s doing it at a great time considering the light heavyweight division is wide open. Jon Jones vacated the title to move up to heavyweight and the division has a new king.

Jan Blachowicz reigns over the light heavyweights at the moment. The Polish Power is on an incredible run and he’s got a bigtime fight in the works with the current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.

When it comes to contenders at light heavyweight, the number one contender is Glover Teixeira. Teixeira has gone on an incredible run of winning five consecutive fights. If Adesanya wasn’t moving up, Glover would be getting a UFC title shot.

However, with Adesanya getting the next shot at Blachowicz, Teixeira will have to wait his turn. It’s worth noting that Teixeira was knocked out in 14 seconds by Rumble Johnson. Not saying they would, but maybe the UFC asks Glover if he wants a rematch while he waits.

However, I don’t think that fight’s likely. Another option for Johnson could be a guy like Johnny Walker. Would be a winnable fight for Rumble, but a fun one for fans.

One thing is for sure, I expect a big name in Rumble’s UFC return. If he comes back and looks like he did a few years ago, he’s only one win away from a title shot in my eyes.

What’s next for Glover Teixeira after UFC Vegas 13 victory?

Anthony Smith, UFC

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira (32-7) made a big statement with his victory. Teixeira was the underdog as he took on former title challenger, Thiago Santos. Santos was making his UFC return after a lengthy layoff due to knee injuries.

The last time we had seen Santos, he fought to a split decision with Jon Jones. He did that essentially on one leg. Prior to that, he had knocked out current UFC light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz when they fought. Many were expecting another knockout from Santos.

As the fight got started, it looked like that’s where we were headed. Santos wobbled Teixeira badly in the opening seconds. However, Teixeira remained poised and he was able to land a takedown. Once the fight got to the ground, it was all Teixeira.

However, in the third round, Santos appeared close to another finish. A massive left hook floored Teixeira. Santos followed up with vicious shots on the ground, but Teixeira wouldn’t go away. Teixeira reversed the position to end up on top.

Following that, an exhausted Santos gave up his back. Once Teixeira had his back, the end was near. Teixeira locked up a rear naked choke and forced Santos to tap out. This was the fifth straight UFC victory for the 41 year old Teixeira who’s enjoying a massive career resurgence.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 13?

There should be a really clear answer to this question. Following UFC Vegas 13, Glover Teixeira should be getting a shot at the UFC light heavyweight championship. The man deserves a shot after stringing together five straight victories.

This fight was originally looked at as a title eliminator. However, it’s not that clear anymore. The prior weekend saw Dana White announce that middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, would be getting the next crack at Jan Blachowicz. 

With that in mind, it appears that the UFC will have to figure out something else for Teixeira. Teixeira is in a really tough spot right now. If he decides to compete again before getting his title shot, there aren’t a ton of fights out there for him.

One potential option would be a rematch with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Rumble will be making his return to the UFC in 2021. When fought previously, Teixeira was knocked out in 14 seconds. Perhaps a rematch is in order considering a title shot might not happen anytime soon.

What’s next for Thiago Santos after UFC Vegas 13

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 13, Thiago Santos (21-8) made his return after being out for well over a year due to knee injuries. Santos pushed Jon Jones to the limit in their title fight and he did it after tearing his knee up in the second round of their fight.

For that reason, many were excited to see the formal UFC title challenger return to action. The general thought was that he would be able to finish his opponent. His opponent was another former title challenger in 41 year old Glover Teixeira (32-7).

Teixeira has turned his UFC career completely around. The 41 year old was looking for his fifth straight victory inside the octagon. The fight started how most thought it would. A big Santos flurry wobbled Teixeira badly. However, the veteran maintained his composure and used his wrestling to get the fight down.

Santos really had no answer for the ground game of Teixeira. After that initial flurry, Teixeira went on to dominate the rest of the first and second rounds. Then, Santos floored Teixeira with a massive left hook to start the third. He appeared close to be finishing the fight.

Santos emptied the tanks looking for the finish, but Teixeira wouldn’t go away. Once again, Teixeira got Santos down, and got immediately to his back. Once there, Santos found himself in rear naked choke where he was forced to tap.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 13?

This was not the UFC return that Thiago Santos was looking for. There were moments in the fight were he looked sensational. However, those were outdone by his lack of defense on the ground and the wrestling skills of Glover Teixiera.

If Santos would have come out and stopped Teixeira in the first round, he would have made a really strong case for a title shot. However, now he must go back to the drawing board and look to improve for his next UFC outing.

In looking at the rankings, there are a couple of fights that could make sense for Santos. A fight with Aleksandar Rakic is one that I think a lot of people would be interested in. Or perhaps, Santos could welcome back Anthony “Rumble” Johnson in his next fight.