Bellator grants Lightweight Champ Will Brooks release from contract, strips Heavyweight Champ Vitaly Minakov

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief


Two Bellator Champions no longer hold those belts, as the organization has released Lightweight Champ Will Brooks and stripped Heavyweight Champ Vitaly Minakov.

The two moves were first reported by, with Bellator President Scott Coker commenting on both situations.

“It was very simple,” Coker said. “Will Brooks’ contract is ending, and we made a decision not to renew it. We’re going to give him a full release, so we’re not going to be in the Will Brooks business any longer.

“We’re going to retain Minakov’s rights with the company, but we are going to strip him of the title for lack of participation, basically. We hope we can work it out, but we’re going to be moving on from Minakov.”

Brooks captured the Vacant Bellator Lightweight Title in his second win over Michael Chandler in 2014 after Bellator released their previous champ Eddie Alvarez. He then defended the belt twice more over Dave Jansen and Marcin Held, and spent the better part of the last eight months criticizing the organization while making his intentions to leave following the end of his contract clear. After shelving him for several months, the organization has now made a clean break.

As for Minakov, the 31-year-old undefeated Russian hasn’t appeared in Bellator since an April 2014 win over Cheick Kongo, instead spending his last three fights in Russia under the Fight Nights banner. Due to that inactivity, they’re moving forward without him as champion.

Penick’s Analysis: The Brooks move perhaps should have happened sooner if they weren’t going to give him a fight to finish his contract up, but at least they’re letting him move on. Hopefully he gets a respectable offer from the UFC, because he’s among the top end of the division, and his predecessor is about to fight for the UFC Lightweight Title in July. It’s not a good look for Bellator’s titles, not that they have truly held much meaning over the last several years, because they have a bunch of champions now in their divisions – or now vacancies – due to their reigning champions leaving. Still, they’re not holding Brooks up any further, which is the right thing to do in this situation.

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3 Comments on Bellator grants Lightweight Champ Will Brooks release from contract, strips Heavyweight Champ Vitaly Minakov

  1. Ugh…Benson Henderson? Are you really that dumb that you don’t realize that Benson Henderson be fighting back in the Lightweight division, easily making him the biggest star of that division (not Chandler)??? Or did you not know that Benson fights for Bellator?

    Come’on, do a little reporting and get your facts straight.

    • What exactly are you responding to within this article? Chandler’s name isn’t even mentioned, for one. And Bellator didn’t book Henderson in their next Lightweight Title fight, so if you’re responding to comments about them attempting to make Chandler the face of their division (from a different story than you’re commenting on), that point still stands, as it’s the attempt they’re making. Honestly not sure what “facts” you think aren’t straight here.

  2. Wrong Article….let me skip over to the right one…but you still failed to mention Benson is both, regardless of which article it is, that makes zero sense…

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