ROUNDTABLE: Is the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix a success?

Ryan Bader (photo credit Jason da Silva © USA Today)

With the Bellator heavyweight grand prix nearly over, how would you grade it as part of Bellator’s TV offering?

Frank Hyden, MMATorch Contributor

I think it’s tremendous. I love the tournament format. Doesn’t have to be same night, same week, or same month (though they should try to conclude the tournaments as soon as possible to avoid dragging them out) but I love tournaments. If nothing else, it makes the booker’s job and the promotional team’s jobs a lot easier. It also gives fans something to look forward to and adds a little spice to what would otherwise be a nondescript matchup.

Imagine if you were running a 8 man tournament, or even 16. Hell, even a 32 man tournament would be interesting, though it would be hard to fill. And the seeding of the tournament would be based on the rankings in the division, as well as any other competitors who don’t normally fight in that division. You could have a selection committee and everything. The unveiling of the brackets could easily be a one hour special on Paramount Network. You’ve got buzz and interest in just that alone. Then, a fight between the 8th ranked and 9th ranked guys in the first round takes on special meaning. Ordinarily only fans of those guys would care, or if they’re exciting fighters, maybe more care. However, if they’re boring or less than exciting fighters, no one is going to care. If it’s a 1st round matchup, though, you care more as a fan because of what that means. Also, you care a lot more if the winner of that fight faces your favorite fighter next.

Speculation is also increased. All of a sudden, you start thinking of the possible matchups in the 2nd or 3rd rounds or whatever. You can also get matchups that you otherwise would never see. We just saw Ryan Bader fight Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko fight Chael Sonnen. How else would those fights have come about if they weren’t in a tournament? I think tournaments are awesome and hope to see more in the future.

Robert Vallejos, MMA Talk for Pro-Wrestling Fans Podcast Host

I give it a B+. The fights have not been especially entertaining, but they have made otherwise underwhelming cards worth watching. This tournament has been framed as important by Bellator, and thus every fight feels like a relatively important event.

I would downgrade the tournament slightly due to its lack of madness. Given the age of these fighters, I was expecting to see several cancellations, other random MMA-only occurrences. The tournament has been smooth sailing for the promotion, but that might have worked against the television product.

Cole Henry, MMATorch Contributor

I love tournaments. They’re exciting and they sometimes lead to matchups that otherwise would probably never take place. My only issue with this particular tournament is that really only Ryan Bader is a guy who is still in his fighting prime but heavyweight is a tough division. Overall, I would say its been great for Bellator and I hope they continue with them. For me the tournament bouts are must see TV so I would give the tournament as a whole a pretty high grade.

David McGrath, MMATorch Contributor

I think the Grand Prix has been mildly entertaining, anytime you can see Fedor step into the cage, I am all for it. It’s also good for business. Ryan Bader is a star and the finale will be must-watch TV. Bellator is on the rise and this is some of the best TV they have ever produced.

Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor

The Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix has been fantastic from an entertainment aspect. It has given a sense of purpose to Bellator at a time when it was beginning to feel like a home for UFC castoffs. Bellator still is a home for UFC castoffs but at least it feels like they’re fighting for something. The ratings haven’t been great, and when you consider the salaries they must be paying these guys, you have to wonder how long Viacom will be willing to keep this going. The money from DAZN might be enough looking at they way they are spending money, notably the new deal with Canelo Alvarez. All in all, I call the tournament a success. Personally, I’d like to have seen it play out a little faster, but overall it’s been good TV.

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