The matchups are officially set for the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 8 light heavyweight tournament.
Three bouts in the 205-pound bracket will take place at Bellator 85 on Jan. 17, which marks the Chicago-based promotion’s highly-anticipated debut on Spike TV. Unlike previous iterations, where future pairings were not immediately evident, the current format will feature a set bracket in each weight class, allowing fans and fighters to more easily follow the progress of the 12-week tournament.
“At Bellator, there’s never been a matchmaker sitting behind a desk in a shiny suit deciding who fights who for the title,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said in a release. “The origin of Bellator was to provide a seamless connection between real sports competition and mixed martial arts, and I believe we have taken that to the next level with a true tournament bracket format.”
The light heavyweight bracket includes the Bellator debuts of two high-profile signees: former Strikeforce 205-pound champ Muhammed Lawal, who takes on Przemyslaw Mysiala, and UFC veteran Renato Sobral, who locks horns with Russian submission specialist Mikhail Zayats. The Lawal-Mysiala conflict is scheduled to go down on Jan. 24 at Bellator 86.
Also competing in the tournament will be “Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 alumnus Seth Petruzelli, who squares off with Team Vortex export Jacob Noe. California native Emanuel Newton meets Bulgaria’s Atanas Djambazov to round out the field.
According to the bracket released by the promotion, the Sobral-Zayats winner will face the Petruzelli-Noe winner, while Lawal-Mysiala winner squares off with the Newton-Djambazov winner.
Bellator 85 takes place at the UCI Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif., and features two championship bouts: a lightweight title clash between reigning champion Michael Chandler and Rick Hawn and a featherweight title duel pitting 145-pound ruler Pat Curran against Patricio Freire.