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Bellator heavyweight grand prix opening-round matchups set; 'Rampage'-Sonnen first up Jan. 20

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The bracket is set for the Bellator MMA World Grand Prix 2018.

The four opening-round matchups for the eight-man tournament to crown a new heavyweight champion were announced tonight on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

They are as follows:

The Jackson (37-12 MMA, 4-1 BMMA) vs. Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) winner will face the winner of Emelianenko (36-5 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) vs. Mir (18-11 MMA, 0-0 BMMA) in one semifinal.

In the other semifinal, the winner of Mitrione (12-5 MMA, 3-0 BMMA) vs. Nelson (23-14 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) will face the Bader (24-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) vs. Lawal (21-6 MMA, 10-4 BMMA) winner.

“Rampage”-Sonnen will kick things off at Bellator 192, which takes place Jan. 20 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The main card airs on Spike following prelims on MMAjunkie.

Mitrione-Nelson is slated for a Bellator event scheduled Feb. 16 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Fedor-Mir and Bader-King Mo are scheduled for April and May events, respectively.

Bellator has yet to determine any alternates for the tournament, though president Scott Coker told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto the promotion is considering several names, including Shane Carwin, Cheick Kongo and Bobby Lashley.

Bellator’s heavyweight championship has been vacant since May 2016, when the promotion stripped then-champ Vitaly Minakov of the belt for failing to defend the title.

The tentative plan is to hold the title fight in December.

For more on Bellator 192 and Bellator’s upcoming schedule, visit the MMA Rumors section of the site.



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