Former heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov returns to Bellator

Vitaly Minakov

The Bellator heavyweight division is championless. But now the champ that never lost his crown is back to reclaim what has yet to be given to someone else.

Bellator has only had three heavyweight champions in their history and they currently do not have one. This is the whole purpose for their big heavyweight Grand Prix tournament where the winner will get the vacant strap.

The remaining fighters in the tournament include the likes of Matt Mitrione, Chael Sonnen, Fedor Emelianenko and the current light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.

However, the true king is coming home.

The last Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov has signed a new deal with the promotion confirms ESPN via Ariel Helwani.

Former Bellator HW champion Vitaly Minakov has re-signed with the promotion, Scott Coker confirms with ESPN. Minakov (21-0) hasn’t fought for Bellator since 2014. He will not return as champion. Coker said tentatively plan is for him to fight once and then fight GP winner

Russia’s Minakov has established himself as one of the very best heavyweights in the world and his undefeated 21-0 record proves it.

During his five-fight stint with Bellator from 2012 to 2014, he became champion by defeating the current top-ranked UFC contender Alexander Volkov via first round TKO. Volkov has yet to be defeated in the UFC and has gone 11-2 since then overall.

Minakov would defend his title once by defeating Cheick Kongo by unanimous decision before leaving for Fight Nights Global where he would win seven in a row. All of which came by way of a finish (four KO/TKO, three submissions).

It makes all the sense in the world for Minakov to immediately challenge the Grand Prix winner once the tournament is all wrapped up.

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing who Minakov’s welcome back party is hosted by.

 

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 8/23/2018