Rory MacDonald’s upcoming fight with Douglas Lima for the Bellator welterweight title is arguably the biggest fight in the organization’s history. So, needless to say, a lot of people were confused when it turned out this fight was not going to be the main event of the card. Instead, the heavyweight grand prix tournament bout would headline the Bellator event. An executive who has been carried over from Spike TV into their new Paramount network recently spoke out on the decision to clear the air.
“We’ll creatively differentiate the main event card and the grand prix in many different ways. We want this creative differentiation to make the heavyweight grand prix feel like a separate and unique event to the audience and that’s why it ends the night. And moving forward, all of the Bellator tentpoles in 2018 will end with a Bellator grand prix event. It’ll make sense to you, because what we’re doing is really creating another — it’s like a show in a show. “It’s an event within the event.”
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) January 18, 2018
“We’re really creatively differentiating between these two things in a big, big way. You’ll see it Saturday and we’ll give you all the surprises, but I know it’ll be a great time and it’ll be a very, very entertaining night. Obviously, the grand prix has been in the works for a long time. Creatively how we lay out the show, which is what this is about, was just — I think it was a week ago. Yes, it was quick. It was recent, it was very recent. So, things happened fast, for sure.” — Paramount Network executive Jon Slusser.
Turns out the decision was to put an even brighter spotlight on the grand prix as a whole, not just choosing to promote Chael Sonnen and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson more than Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima. It’s clear Bellator really wants this tournament to be special, perhaps they’re hoping people tune in for MacDonald’s title fight with Lima and stick around to see the debut of the grand prix. Either way, a lot of people will be flipping around as Bellator competes with UFC 220’s air time.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/19/2018.