Bellator Fighting Championships’ Season 8 welterweight tournament field is now set, as promotion officials announced Wednesday that Bellator 86 will host the tourney’s opening round.
Slated to take place Jan. 24 at Winstar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla., Bellator 86 will see Marius Zaromskis, Douglas Lima, Ben Saunders and Jose de Ribamar Machado Gomes square off with Brent Weedman, Michail Tsarev, Koffi Adzitso and Raul Amaya, respectively.
The Spike-broadcast main card is topped by a welterweight title duel between champion Ben Askren and challenger Karl Amoussou, and will also feature a light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal pitting ex-Strikeforce ruler Muhammed Lawal against Przemyslaw Mysiala.
Six of the eight fighters in the welterweight bracket hold Bellator tournament experience, with only Gomes and Adzitso making their promotional debuts. Of the listed fighters, only Zaromskis -- the former Dream welterweight titleholder -- has held major championship gold. The Season 5 tournament winner, Lima unsuccessfully challenged Askren for the Bellator title last April, falling by unanimous decision to the potent wrestler at Bellator 64.
Saunders brings with him a pair of Bellator tournament appearances and more than two years of UFC experience heading into the Season 8 draw, which serves as Weedman’s second welterweight tournament effort after coming up just short in the Season 6 lightweight draw last spring.
Bellator’s upcoming eighth season marks the promotion’s first on Spike and hosts tournaments in five weight classes ranging from featherweight to light heavyweight. The season kicks off Jan. 17 with Bellator 85, which features lightweight champion Michael Chandler and featherweight titlist Pat Curran defending their respective belts against Rick Hawn and Patricio Freire.