Bellator MMA will debut tomorrow night on the newly rebranded Paramount Network (9p EST), opposite UFC 220 (PPV). Chael Sonnen and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will headline Bellator 192. The fight will kick off the promotion’s Heavyweight Grand Prix (to span 2018), an 8-man single-elimination tournament that also includes Fedor Emelianenko, Frank Mir and Matt Mitrione. The card will also include a welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima, as well as the professional debut of Khonry Gracie; the son of Royce Gracie, winner of UFC 1, who will be in his corner.
Howie Long-Short: Viacom (VIAB) owns a majority stake in the Bellator promotion, so it’s understandable that fights have resided on VIAB owned SpikeTV for a decade; but, I’m not sure why they’re bringing them over to the Paramount Network (other than the built-in audience). The company rebranded to draw on the cache of Paramount Pictures. It wants to be a home for “premium, original storytelling” (think: Netflix). I fail to see how mixed martial arts fits in with that image.
Fan Marino: The heavyweights will draw the casual fan, but MacDonald/Lima should be the best fight of the night (on this card). MacDonald, who lost in the 5th round to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 and owns career wins over Tyrone Woodley and Nate Diaz, is in the prime of his career; while Lima, a 2x Bellator Welterweight Champion, has the most knockouts in the promotion’s history (8).
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