By Benjamin Bieker
Bellator is an MMA promotion built on the idea that they have the world’s toughest tournament in all of sports. That tournament is supposed to produce the promotions champions, and it is also supposed to produce the next challenger for those champions. In the beginning, they have had trouble with keeping their champions active enough. Look at current middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko who won the season five tournament, but he could not fight for the title until nearly a year and a half later because of lack of challengers.
That is of course why they changed a few things to their rules about title fights. Now, the promotion is allowed to have instant rematches, and while it is not instant, they are using this for the Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler rematch. In the case that a title match is very close in outcome, controversial in decision, or that the promotion can make a lot of money they will allow an instant rematch so that a champion does not have to sit out for too long. Also, now the promotion is allowed to replace a tournament champion when they become injured before a fight. This was the case last Saturday night.
The hard hitting former WEC veteran Doug Marshall was supposed to challenge Shlemenko for his middleweight title. Unfortunately, the California native suffered an injury and has to be replace. He was replaced by the runner-up in brett Cooper who had suffered a knockout in his last fight and already had a previous loss to Shlemenko. So, not only do you have someone coming off a devastating loss fighting for the title, but you have him challenging someone who is a dominant champion. In what world does that make sense?
Another drawback is that Shlemenko was shown to have a lack of striking defense which opened him up for some big shots from Cooper. This could have been something that a power striker like Marshall could have exploited, but now Shlemenko is sure to shore that aspect of his game up before this bout. Marshall is not able to exploit this hole as much since it was exposed in a semi-worthless title fight. All of this leads to the question of whether or not the tournament format is wroth it?
The promotion cannot sustain enough challengers for their champions, injuries lead to people sitting out for too long whether they be champion or tournament winners for people, and just making fights so that there can be title fights regardless of if they are worth it. Just look a King Mo who won two fights he could easily win, and now he is fighting for an interim title after being knocked unconscious earlier this year. How does that make sense? That is why Bellator is having title troubles.
What are your thoughts?