Announcements are coming fast and furious these days from Bellator. This week the promotion announced that its fourth season would premiere on March 5 at Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, Calif., that its events would air live on Saturdays instead of on Thursdays as in previous seasons, that season four would host a Lightweight Tournament, and that “Razor” Rob McCullough (#70 Lightweight) and Carey Vanier (#95) would participate in said tourney.
The first of Season Four’s 12 scheduled cards will air live from Lemoore on MTV2 on Sat., March 5, at 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. “With our spectacular partnership with MTV2, MMA fans now have a place to watch Bellator live every Saturday night,” Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney was quoted in a press release. The move to Lemoore is significant as Tachi Palace has been a key site for the rise of MMA in America, first hosting the WEC, then Palace Fighting Championship, and now Tachi Palace Fights, all of which made their name developing talent for the international stage.
Having already filled out the brackets for Welterweight and Featherweight tournaments, Bellator announced that a Lightweight Tournament will be held during Season Four with the winner claiming $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight). The first confirmed participants are former WEC Lightweight Champion “Razor” Rob McCullough (#70 Lightweight) and Carey Vanier (#95).
“I have a family now so I’m not out running around like I was before. I’m more conditioned and focused than ever,” McCullough was quoted in a press release. “I’ve completely rededicated myself to this sport. This is my career. I’m supporting a little boy and a wife now. It’s become bigger than just me.”
(Vanier takes out Rich Clementi at Bellator 28.)
“I’ve been here at Greg Jackson’s in New Mexico since October and I’m not going home until I win this tournament,” Vanier was quoted in a press release. “My confidence is at an all-time high right now – not because of my recent win over [Rich] Clementi – but because of my training partners and what I’ve been doing for the last six months. The coach has got me doing some really incredible stuff. He’s really opened up my game and I’m starting to see and approach things differently. I’m really excited to go out there and put all that I’ve learned to the test.”
Bellator previously announced its upcoming Featherweight and Welterweight Tournaments. The Featherweight bracket features unheralded Nazareno Melagarie, Patricio Freire (#21 Featherweight), Wilson Reis (#23), Daniel Straus (#20), Georgi Karakhanyan (#29), Kenny Foster, Zac George and Eric Larkin in the Featherweight Tournament field. The tournament winner will take home $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Featherweight Champion Joe Warren (#2)
The Welterweight Tournament features Jay Hieron (#19 Welterweight), Steve Carl (#43), “Judo” Jimmy Wallhead, former Bellator Welterweight Champion Lyman Good (#38), Dan Hornbuckle (#57), Brent Weedman (#84), Chris Lozano, and former Olympic judoka Rick Hawn as they compete for $100,000 and a shot at Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (#16). Both Lozano and Hawn will enter our rankings after their first tournament fight.
The promotion’s inaugural Light-Heavyweight Tournament is the other officially-announced component of Bellator’s upcoming fourth season, which will air on MTV2. In the coming weeks, Bellator will announce the rest of its season four tournament participants. To date, the other announced fighters for season four are Joe Riggs, Daniel Gracie and Ron Sparks.
The promotion currently boasts champions in all men’s divisions but Flyweight and Light Heavyweight. Those champions are Zach Makovsky (#11 Bantamweight), Joe Warren (#2 Featherweight), Eddie Alvarez (#11 Lightweight), Ben Askren (#16 Welterweight), Hector Lombard (#6 Middleweight), Cole Konrad (#24 Heavyweight), and Zoila Frausto, who will likely be at the top of the heap when FIGHT! unveils its Women’s Flyweight Rankings.